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Selections from words^w^orth's 
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WILLIAM WORDSWORTH was born in April, 
1770, at Cockermouth, on the river Derwent, in 
Cumberland. The Wordsworths were a family of no 
great note, but had long held a respectable position, and 
the father of the poet was a solicitor, and acted as agent 
to Lord Lonsdale. He had five children, of whom William 
was the second, and his only sister, Dorothy, the third. 

By the banks of Derwent the future poet passed his 
early childhood. Even then the mountain stream " sent 
a voice that flowed along his dreams,'' and in its waters, 
when only five years old, he tells us, he made " one long 
bathing of a summer's day." 

The wise care of his mother, whom Wordsworth always 
lovingly remembered, made these pleasant years of in- 
fancy full of profit to him. His passionate and earnest 
nature showed, she tells us, some signs of sullenness, 
which vanished, however, under her wise training, and 
which have as their sole counterpart the complete lack of 
humour which marked his character. 

His mother died when he was eight years old, and the 
following year he was sent, with his elder brother John, 
to school at Hawkshead, a market village near the lake 
of Esthwaite. 

The one fact of Wordsworth's school-time is that it was 
only a continuation of his childish freedom. It is the 
first index of a life singular throughout for its unconven- 


tionality, and for the steady and successful pursuit of its 
own best good. The life of an English schoolboy of the 
upper and middle classes in Wordsworth's time was a very 
hard one ; and when we remember what Coleridge went 
through at Christ's Hospital, and Shelley,* years later, 
at Brentford and Eton, it seems indeed fortunate that the 
genius of Wordsworth was not exposed to influences it 
would hardly have survived. 

Wordsworth's school days, although very uneventful, 
were in many ways the most important seasom of his life. 
It was the seed-time of his poetic manhood. In the first 
and second books of the Prelude we can still see much 
of it, and trace how much of what is most beautiful in 
his after poems is woven from these earlier threads. 

Although the death of his father, when Wordsworth 
was fourteen, had left the family straitened for money, 
he was nevertheless sent in his eighteenth year (1787) 
from Hawkshead to St. John's, Cambridge. His know- 
ledge both of Latin and mathematics was above the 
average, but he never gave serious thought to scholastic 
success. The change from Cumberland mountains to 
Cambridge flats, from rustic solitude to the social life of 
a University, Wordsworth found to be not without its 
pleasures. He had never, even in boyhood, been re- 
served or hypochondriacal, and now mixed freely with 
other men. Beside " the pleasant mill of Trumpington," the 
haunt of the ancient poet, he read his favourites, Chaucer 
and Spenser. His long vacations he spent in visits to 
friends, and in walks in Wales and on the Continent. It 
was on a visit about this tinie that he first met his cousin, 
Mary Hutchinson, his future wife ; and his last "Long" 
was spent in a three months' walk through Switzerland 
and Italy, which had the effect of deepening his interest 
in modern politics. This, which may be called the second 

*■ Cf. the Introduction to the Revolt of Islam, 

LIFE. 7 

epoch in Wordsworth's life, had quickly slipped away. 
In the January of 1789 he took a common degree, and 
left Cambridge for London. 

To his friends his university life had been disappoint- 
ing. It had done nothing to raise either his name or 
fortunes. To himself it had brought widened human 
sympathies, healthy social instincts, and a manly interest 
in public events. 

And rarely has the political world been so well worth 
watching as at this time. The independence of the 
United States had been recognized in 1784, and the 
Republic was in the hopeful flush of infancy. The 
spirit of republicanism was strong in the Netherlands, 
and the Revolution imminent in France. In England 
the talents of Pitt, Fox, Sheridan, and Burke were in 
their full splendour ; and the year in which Wordsworth 
left Cambridge is memorable for the impeachment of 
Warren Hastings for misgovernment in India. 

On leaving Cambridge, Wordsworth spent some time 
in London. His future lay in uncertainty ; and although 
confident in the possession of unusual powers, he felt the 
difficulty of even earning a living. Any immediate de- 
cision was, however, postponed to another Continental 

In 1 79 1 we find him once more abroad — at Paris, at 
Orleans, at Blois. France was in a ferment, and Words- 
worth threw himself with all his soul into the passionate 
longing for political freedom which was the golden dream 
of the time. The dawn of the French Revolution was 
hailed with enthusiasm by almost all the more ardent 
and sensitive minds. 

** When France in wrath her giant limbs upreared, 
And with that oath which smote air, earth, and sea. 
Stamped her strong foot, and said she would be free." * 

* S. T. Coleridge. 


His own feelings Wordsworth has described in a poem 
entitled The French Revolution^ as it appeared to Enthu- 
siasts at its commencement, 

" Not favoured spots alone, but the whole earlh 
The beauty wore of promise ; the inert 
Were roused, and lively natures rapt away." 

In 1792 he was again in Paris. The September mas- 
sacre had taken place some weeks, and the city was not so 
safe a dwelling-place as in the preceding year, which had 
witnessed the funeral of Mirabeau, ** the people's friend," 
the Serment Civique, and the royal arrest at Varennes. 
More formidable matters were on foot tham the "insur- 
rection of women" of 1789, and towards the close of the 
year Wordsworth was recalled by his friends from his 
dangerous position. 

The failure of the hopes of social regeneration with 
which he had greeted the fall of the Bastille was to 
Wordsworth the deepest sorrow he had ever known. It 
filled him with shame, almost with despair. He has left 
in the history of the " Solitary " a picture of his own hopes 
and disappointment — 

" Liberty, 

I worshipped tHee, and found thee but a shade." • 

Nor was he alone in these bitter feelings. They were 
fully shared by many Englishmen, among whom we 
may mention Robert Southey and S. T. Coleridge, both 
destined to be his friends for life. ^ 

On his return to England Wordsworth reached the real 
crisis of his life. He was exposed to a double danger, 
either of letting his poetic nature be smothered in attempts 
to solve social and philosophical problems, or, secondly, 
of being forced by the urgency of what Coleridge called 
"the bread and cheese question," to sell himself to 

* Cf. Excursiofty bk. ii. 1. 692-763. 

LIFE, 9 

drudgery. From the first of these dangers he was rescued 
by the wise sympathy of his sister Dorothy, who soon led 
him back to his own wqrld of natural beauty, to which 
his late experience added depths of human feeling he 
might not else have known. From the second peril he 
was delivered by a timely legacy of ;£9oo, which made 
unnecessary the, to him fatal, resolution of joining the 
staff of a newspaper. 

Thus in 1795 we find Wordsworth and his sister 
Dorothy settled at Racedown, a retired village in Dor- 
setshire. In appearance he was a well-made man, of 
more than average height, with light hair, large blue 
eyes, and regular features. His sister was a most fitting 
companion for him — beautiful, strong, enthusiastic, and 
original. He could now follow out his purpose earJy made, 
and never for long relinquished, of giving his whole life 
to the expression of his poetic genius : and the task he 
had set himself was much lightened by his noble friend- 

Never has man been richer in the sympathy of others 
than Wordsworth, a sympathy without which he could 
scarcely have given voice to the full passion of his quiet 
and peculiar beauty. Of his sister we have already 
spoken : he has himself told how close a sympathy bound 
them together;* but at Racedown the brother and sister 
made also their first acquaintance with Samuel Taylor 

Wordsworth's junior by two years, he had already 
passed through many adventures : he had been educated 
at Christ's Hospital with Lamb and Middleton, and 
sent thence to Cambridge, had since been a private in 

* Where*er my footsteps turned 
Her voke was like a hidden bird that sang. 
The thought of her was like a flash of light 
Or an unseen companionship, — a breath 
Of fragrance independent of the wind. 


the Dragoons and a dissenting preacher, and was to be 
known to the world as a poet, philosopher, and critic. 
Wordsworth, who remained in closest friendship with 
him for life, describes him as the " rapt one of the God- 
like forehead ;" and it was to be near him that the Words- 
worths, after two years, left Racedown for Alfoxden, about 
three miles from Nether Stowey, in Somersetshire, where 
Coleridge was living. 

Meanwhile Wordsworth had not been idle. He had 
already, in 1793, published the Evening Walk and De- 
scriptive Sketches; but they had gained little attention. 
He now, in 1798, the year after the removal to Somerset- 
shire, brought out his first volume of Lyrical Ballads, It 
appeared with a preface on the nature and right expres- 
sion of poetry, in which the author vindicates the sim- 
plicity of his language and the homeliness of his subjects. 
The new proposition which he attempts to establish, that 
the language of poetry does not differ in its essentials from 
that of prose, is paradoxical and unsound ; but though in 
this he was led into exaggeration, it was a natural reac- 
tion from the artificial school of Dryden and Pope. 

There is a stor>' that Wordsworth and Coleridge, from 
their eccentric habits and known revolutionary views, came 
under suspicion of treason : certain it is that in 1798 they 
left Somersetshire for Germany, and spent the winter at 
Goslar. Among the poems written during the last summer 
at Alfoxden are the Lines written near Tintern, perhaps 
the most beautiftil that Wordsworth ever wrote. Cole- 
ridge left Goslar for Gottingen to learn German ; but the 
three friends met again later in the year in Westmoreland, 
and the Wordsworths first saw their future home. 

In the winter of the last year of the century, the brother 
and sister took a house at the town end of Grassmere ; 
and two years later an increase of income resulted in the 
marriage of the poet with his cousin, Mary Hutchinson — 

LIFE. 1 1 

** A creature not too bright and good 
For human nature's daily food — 
And yet a spirit still, and bright 
With something of an angel light." 

Her society, and that of the ardent and gifted Dorothy, 
could have left him nothing to desire that woman could 
give. The glorious Ode on Immdrtality, the Ode to Duty^ 
and some of Wordsworth's most perfect lyrics, were written 
about this time. The year after his marriage he took, in 
company with his sister and Coleridge, a tour in the 
Highlands, to which we owe Stepping Westward^ The 
Solitary Reaper^ and Yarrow Unvisited, poems in his 
highest vein. 

The nine years succeeding Wordsworth's marriage 
were passed in tranquil happiness and ceaseless industry, 
saddened only by the death of his brother John, who was 
lost at sea in 1805. He had been William's companion at 
Hawkeshead, and there had been the deepest affection 
between them. Peele Castle, and other poems written at 
this time, bear deep marks of the poet's sorrow. 

In 1807 two more volumes were published, which, 
although severely reviewed, fixed the author's position as 
an original poet. 

.1811 found the Wordsworths at the Parsonage, the 
third house they had occupied during their sojourn at 
Grassmere ; but the loss of two children made the Par- 
sonage too full of sad memories, and in 181 3, the year in 
which Southey was made Poet Laureate, they removed 
to Rydal Mount, their final home. 

An appointment, procured by Lord Lonsdale about 
this time, removed any fear of poverty, and during the 
second year at Rydal Mount appeared the Excursion, 
closely followed by the White Doe of Rylstone and 
Laodamia, Life at Rydal Mount flowed very evenly, and 
no event calls for notice in the next seventeen years. 


except the publication of the Duddon Sonnets^ and of a, 
large number of poems, memorials of a tour on the Con- 
tinent in 1820. 

In 1 83 1 Wordsworth, accompanied by his daughter 
Dora, paid a visit to Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford. 
Born within a year of each other, and alike the originators 
in their several ways of a new era in English literature, 
Scott and Wordsworth yet presented a marked contrast ; 
Scott, rdined in fortunes, and broken in health ; Words- 
worth with twenty years of life before him, and his poetic 
powers unchecked. At the close of the ensuing year, the 
year of the great Reform Bill, Scott, to whom Italian 
skies had brought no help, was dying, and Wordsworth 
came once more to Scotland to attend the funeral of the 
"border bard." Three years later, Coleridge too ended 
a life, much of which had been a long struggle with pain, 
and poverty, and religious doubts, although his later days 
were more tranquil. 

The death of Coleridge was followed in 1842 by that of 
Southey, who for several years had been broken both in 
body and mind. 

Wordsworth was now seventy-two, but still strong and 
well, and, although saddened by having seen so many of 
his dearest friends pass to the grave before him, could 
yet feel that 

**'Tis better to have loved and lost, 
Than never to have loved at all." * 

His friend's death left vacant the post of Poet Laureate, 
which was accepted by Wordsworth, at the earnest solici- 
tation of Sir Robert Peel, then Prime Minister. This 
appointment was a clear proof of the position as a poet 
that Wordsworth had for some time attained, in spite of 
the bitter criticisms of Jeffreys and other reviewers. 

* Tennyson, In Mem. 

LIFE. 13 

Four years after his appointment, Wordsworth was 
once more struck by death through those he loved. His 
daughter Dora died, and he was never his old self again. 

He died in the April of 1850, after a short illness, and 
was laid in Grassmere churchyard, by Southey's side, 
among the mountains he had loved so well. 

The Ecclesiastical Sonnets occupied Wordsworth in his 
later years, and, although they lack the intense spirituality 
and bright feeling of his earlier poems, they possess much 
quiet beauty. 

Few poets have been so loaded with misleading phrases 
as Wordsworth. He has been called, for instance, * meta- 
physical,' or ' subjective,' * puerile,' * the poet of nature.' 

Metaphysical he is not, except in a very loose sense, a 
sense in which all poets must be included. All poetry is 
but the expression of the feeling of the poet, and is there- 
fore * subjective,' and all means of expression are legiti- 
mate, if only they effect their object, and produce in others 
the required emotion. The truth that really lies at the 
bottom of these epithets is that Wordsworth's genius is 
not dramatic,* and that his language is from the intensity 
of the feeling described, like Shakespeare's, sometimes 
though rarely obscure. 

* Puerile ' may be fairly said of a few, and very few, of 
his poems ; but not many poets have left so much written 
in their highest mood. And if by * puerility ' is meant, as 
it is when applied to Wordsworth, not the overloaded style 
and unhealthy fancy which occasionally spoil Queen Mab 
and Endymion, but silliness aping simplicity, it should 
be remembered that the greater part of Wordsworth's 
poetry is not even simple. 

The last phrase mentioned, " poet of nature," is also 
misleading, if it is meant to imply that Wordsworth is 

• His tragedy of The Borderers is a failure, and even Laodamia drama- 
tically faulty. 


solely, or even chiefly, a lover and describer of natural 
scenery. External beauty is rather the medium than the 
cause of Wordsworth's inspiration. 

** Thanks to tfic human heart by which wc Iwe^ 
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys and fears. 
To me the meanest flower that blows can give 
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears."* 

It is this intense humanity which makes him give a soul 
to senseless things : 

** Armour, rusting in his halls, 
On the blood of Clifford calls ; 
Quell the Scott, exclaims the lance ; 
Bear me to the heart of France, 
Is the longing of the shield." f 

In regarding Wordsworth as a whole, we may notice — 

First, the completeness of his life. His literary and 
personal life were harmonious, almost identical. It would 
be hard to find a man who so completely fulfilled himself. 
No part of his nature was crushed or stinted by unfavour- 
ing circumstance, and his own part towards his self-per- 
fection he performed with patience, industrj^, and courage. 

Secondly, his friendships. He gathered round him 
magnetically so much of the genius of his time, and 
sought and found in his own family sympathies higher 
than any mere bond of kin could give. 

Thirdly, his originality, seen both in his life and writ- 
ings. He was the first to break the fetters of poetic 
convention in which the eighteenth century was bound ; 
and, in his return to the right sources of all poetry, 
viz., a " vigorous human-heartedness," a sense of natural 
beauty and reverence, he must be held to be the fore- 
runner of the poetry of the present time. Wordsworth 

* Otte to Imwortality. 

t Song at tfie Feast of Broitgfuxm Cos tie. 

LIFE. 15 

stands alone. Pope and Goldsmith died just before his 
birth ; Gray and Collins in his infancy ; Cowper just as 
he had reached manhood. To Burns indeed he was near 
akin in all except the former's matchless humour and 
wild recklessness. Wordsworth's lines on Burns remind 
us of himself : 

** Fresh as the flower whose modest worth 
He sang, his genius glinted forth, 
Rose like a star that, touching earth, 

For so it seems, 
Doth glorify its humble birth 

With matchless beams. " * 

Well might he say — 

"Neighbours we were, and loving friends 
We might have been." 

But with Burns Wordsworth had no communion. To 
Coleridge and Southey, especially to the former, he owed 
muchy and between the three poet friends there was 
much in common— romance, freedom, and intense sym- 
pathy with inanimate nature ; and yet the appellation of 
the "Lake School" bears with it more of falsity than 
truth, ignoring, as it does, the marked individuality of 
poets, who were as distinct from each other as men of 
such genius, living in the same age, and exposed to the 
same influences, could well be. Wordsworth especially 
stands aloof between the eighteenth and the nineteenth 
centuries, strong in his pathos, purity, and depth, his 
glowing imagination, and delicate truth. 

* At the Grave of Bums, written scvcu years after his death, 1805. 


•"T^HE WANDERER" forms the first book of the 
-*■ Exctirsion^ which is the longest of Wordsworth's 
poems. The Excursion was, however, itself intended to 
form the second part of a still larger work to be called 
the Recluse, Of this larger work we have, besides the 
Excursion^ only the closing lines of the first part. The 
third part was only planned, never written, and its ma- 
terials have probably found expression in shorter poems. 

The Excursion differed in plan from the rest of the 
Recluse by being represented as the utterance of persons 
other than the author ; but no great effort is made to 
obtain dramatic effect. 

The relation of the Excursion to the Prelude^ the only 
other poem of considerable length that Wordsworth ever 
undertook, is thus expressed in the author's preface to the 
first edition of the former poem (published 1814) : 

"Several years ago, when the author retired to his 
native mountains with the hope of being enabled to con- 
struct a literary work that might live, it was a reasonable 
thing that he should take a review of his own mind, and 
examine how far nature and education had qualified him 
for such an employment. 

"As subsidiary to this preparation, he undertook to 

record, in verse, the origin and progress of his own 

powers, as far as he was acquainted with them. 

" That work {The Prelude\ addressed to a dear friend 



most distinguished for his knowledge and genius (S. T. 
Coleridge), and to whom the author's intellect is deeply 
indebted, is long finished ; and the result of the investi- 
gation which gave rise to it was a determination to com- 
p>ose a philosophical poem containing views of man, 
nature, and society, and to be entitled The Recluse, 
as having for its principal subject the sensations and 
opinions of a poet living in retirement. . . . The two 
works (the Prelude and the Excursion) have the same 
kind of relation to each other, if he may so express him- 
self, as the ante-chapel has to the body of a Gothic 

The Wanderer was written in the last few years of 
the eighteenth century, when Wordsworth was living at 
Racedown, in Dorsetshire, or with his sister Dorothy, as 
a near neighbour of Coleridge, at Nether Stowey, in 
Somersetshire, and is described by Coleridge himself as 
the " best blank verse in the English language." It was 
first published, with the rest of the Excursion, in 1814. 



Argdmbnt. — ^A summer forenoon. — ^The Author reaches a ruined cottage 
upon a common* and there meets with a revered friend, the Wanderer, of 
whose education and course of life he gives an account. — The Wanderer, 
while resting under the shade of the trees that surround the cottage, relates 
the history of its last inhabitant. 

"T*WAS summer, and the sun had mounted high : 
■*■ Southward the landscape indistinctly glared 
Through a pale steam ; but all the northern downs, 
In clearest air ascending, showed far off 
A surface dappled o'er with shadows flung 
From brooding clouds ; shadows that lay in spots 
Determined and unmoved, with steady beams 
Of bright and pleasant sunshine interposed ; 
To him most pleasant who on soft cool moss 
Extends his careless limbs along the front lo 

Of some huge cave, whose rocky ceiling casts 
A twilight of its own, an ample shade, 
Where the wren warbles, while the dreaming man, 
Half conscious of the soothing melody, 
With side-long eye looks out upon the scene, 
By power of that impending covert thrown 
To finer distance. Mine was at that hour 
Far other lot, yet with good hope that soon 
Under a shade as grateful I should find 
Rest, and be welcomed there to livelier joy. 20 

Across a bare wide Common I was toiling 
With languid steps that by the slippery turf 
Were baffled ; nor could my weak arm disperse 


The host of insects gathering round my face, 
And ever with me as I paced along. 

Upon that open moorland stood a grove, 
The wished-for port to which my course was bound. 
Thither I came, and there, amid the gloom 
Spread by a brotherhood of lofty elms. 
Appeared a roofless Hut ; four naked walls 30 

That stared upon each other ! — I looked round. 
And to my wish and to my hope espied 
The Friend I sought ; a Man of reverend age, 
But stout and hale, for travel unimpaired. 
There was he seen upon the cottage-bench. 
Recumbent in the shade, as if asleep ; 
An iron-pointed staff lay at his side. 

Him had I marked the day before — alone 
And stationed in the public way, with face 
Turned toward the sun then setting, while that staff 40 
Afforded to the figure of the man, 
Detained for contemplation or repose. 
Graceful support ; his countenance as he stood 
Was hidden from my view, and he remained 
Unrecognised ; but, stricken by the sight. 
With slackened footsteps I advanced, and soon 
A glad congratulation we exchanged 
At such unthought-of meeting. — For the night 
We parted, nothing willingly ; and now 
He by appointment waited for me here, 50 

Under the covert of these clustering elms. 

We were tried Friends ; amid a pleasant vale, 
In the antique market- village where was passed 
My school-time, an apartment he had owned. 
To which at intervals the Wanderer drejv, 
And found a kind of home or harbour there. 
He loved me ; from a swarm of rosy boys 
Singled out me, as he in sport would say, 
For my grave looks, too' thoughtful for my years. 
As I grew up, it was my best delight 60 

To be his chosen comrade. Many a time. 
On holidays, we rambled through the woods : 
We sate — we walked ; he pleased me with report 


Of things which he had seen ; and often touched 

Abstrusest matter, reasonings of the mind 

Turned inward ; or at my request would sing 

Old songs, the product of his native hills ; 

A skilful distribution of sweet sounds, 

Feeding the soul, and eagerly imbibed 

As cool refreshing water, by the care 70 

Of the industrious husbandman, diffused 

Through a parched meadow-ground, in time of drought. 

Still deeper welcome found his pure discourse : 

How precious when in riper days I learned 

To weigh with care his words, and to rejoice 

In the plain presence of his dignity ! ^ 

Oh ! many are the Poets that are sown 
By Nature ; men endowed with highest gifts, 
The vision and the faculty divine ; 
Yet wanting the accomplishment of verse 80 

(Which, in the docile season of their youth. 
It was denied them to acquire, through lack 
Of culture and the inspiring aid of bookS) 
Or haply by a temper too severe, 
Or a nice backwardness afraid of shame). 
Nor having e'er, as life advanced, been led 
By circumstance to take unto the height 
The measure of themselves, these favoured Beings, 
All but a scattered few, live out their ^time, 
Husbanding that which they possess within, 90 

And go to the grave, unthought of. Strongest minds 
Are often those of whom the noisy world 
Hears least ; else surely this Man had not left 
His graces unrevealed and unproclaimed. 
But, as the mind was filled with inward light. 
So not without distinction had he lived, 
B«loved and honoured — far as he was known. 
And some small portion of his eloquent speech, 
And something that may serve to set in view 
The feeling pleasures of his loneliness, 100 

His observations, and the thoughts his mind 
Had dealt with — I will here record in verse ; 
Which, if with truth it correspond, and sink 
Or rise as venerable Nature leads. 
The high and tender Muses shall accept 


With gracious smile, deliberately pleased, 
And listening Time reward with sacred praise. 

Among the hills of Athol he was born ; 
Where, on a small hereditary farm. 
An unproductive slip of rugged ground, i lo 

His Parents, with their numerous offspring, dwelt ; 
A virtuous household, though exceeding poor ! 
Pure livers were they all, austere and grave. 
And fearing God ; the very children taught 
Stern self-respect, a reverence for God's Word, 
And an habitual piety, maintained 
With strictness scarcely known on English ground. 

From his sixth year, the Boy of whom I speak, 
In summer, tended cattle on the hills ; 
But, through the inclement and the perilous days 120 
Of long-continuing winter, he repaired, 
Equipped with satchel, to a school, that stood 
Sole building on a mountain's dreary edge, 
Remote from view of city spire, or sound 
Of minster clock ! From that bleak tenement 
He, many an evening, to his distant home 
In solitude returning, saw the hills 
Grow larger in the darkness ; all alone 
Beheld the stars come out above his head. 
And travelled through the wood, with no one near 130 
To whom he might confess the things he saw. 

So the foundations of his mind were laid. 
In such communion, not from terror free. 
While yet a child, and long before his time, 
Had he perceived the presence and the power 
Of greatness ; and deep feelings had impressed 
So vividly great objects that they lay 
Upon his mind like substances, and almost seemed 
To haunt the bodily sense. He had received 
A precious gift ; for, as he grew in years, 140 

With these impressions would he still compare 
All his remembrances, thoughts, shapes, and forms ; 
And, being still unsatisfied with aught 
Of dimmer character, he thence attained 
An active power to fasten images 


Upon his brainy and on their pictured lines 

Intensely brooded, even till they acquired 

The liveliness of dreams. Nor did he fail, 

While yet a child, with a child's eagerness 

Incessantly to turn his ear and eye 150 

On all things which the moving seasons brought 

To feed such appetite — nor this alone 

Appeased his yearning : — in the after-day 

Of boyhood, many an hour in caves forlorn, 

And 'mid the hollow depths of naked crags 

He sate, and even in their fixed lineaments. 

Or from the power of a peculiar eye, 

Or by creative feeling overborne, 

Or by predominance of thought oppressed. 

Even in their fixed and steady lineaments, 160 

He traced an ebbing and a Rowing mind. 

Expression ever varying ! 

Thus informed, 
He had small need of books ; for many a tale 
Traditionary, round the mountains hung. 
And many a legend, peopling the dark woods, 
Nourished Imagination m her growth, 
And gave the Mind that apprehensive power 
By which she is made quick to recognise 
The moral properties and scope of things. 
But eagerly he read, and read again, 170 

Whatever the minister's old shelf supplied ; 
The life and death of martyrs, who sustained. 
With will inflexible, those fearful pangs 
Triumphantly displayed in records left 
Of persecution, and the Covenant — times 
Whose echo rings through Scotland to this hour ! 
And there, by lucky hap, had been preserved 
A straggling volume, torn and incomplete, 
That left half told the preternatural tale, 
Romance of giants, chronicle of fiends, 180 

Profuse in garniture of wooden cuts 
Strange ana uncouth ; dire faces, figures dire. 
Sharp-kneed, sharp-elbowed, and lean-ankled too. 
With long and ghostly shanks — forms which once seen 
Could never be forgotten 1 

In his heart, 
Where Fear sate thus, a cherished visitant 


Was wanting yet the pure delight of love 

By sound diffused, or by the breathing air, 

Or by the silent looks of happy things, 

Or flowing from the universal face 190 

Of earth and sky. But he had felt the power 

Of Nature, and already was prepared, 

By his intense conceptions, to receive 

Deeply the lesson deep of love which he. 

Whom Nature, by whatever means, has taught 

To feel intensely, cannot but receive. 

Such was the Boy — but for the growing Youth 
What soul was his, when, from the naked top 
Of some bold headland, he beheld the sun 
Rise up, and bathe the world in light ! He looked — 200 
Ocean and earth, the solid frame of earth 
And ocean's liquid mass, in gladness lay 
Beneath him : — Far and wide the clouds were touched, 
And in their silent faces could be read 
Unutterable love. Sound needed none, 
Nor any voice of joy ; his spirit drank 
The spectacle : sensation, soul, and form. 
All melted into him ; they swallowed up 
His animal being; in them did he live. 
And by them did he live ; they were his life. 210 

In such access of mind, in such high hour 
Of visitation from the living God, 
Thought was not ; in enjoyment it expired. 
No thanks he breathed, he proffered no request ; 
Rapt into still communion that transcends 
The imperfect offices of prayer and praise. 
His mind was a thanksgiving to the power 
That made him ; it was blessedness and love. 

A Herdsman on the lonely mountain tops, 
Such intercourse was his, and in this sort 220 

Was his existence oftentimes /^i^f^jj^^. 
O then how beautiful, how bright appeared 
The written promise ! Early had he learned 
To reverence the volume that displays 
The mystery, the life which cannot die ; 
But in the mountains did \\&feel his faith. 
All things, responsive to the writing, there 


Breathed immortality, revolving life, 

And greatness still revolving ; infinite : 

There littleness was not ; the least of things 230 

Seemed infinite ; and there his spirit shaped 

Her prospects, nor did he believe, — he saw. 

What wonder if his being thus became 

Sublime and comprehensive ! Low desires, 

Low thoughts had there no place, yet was his heart 

Lowly ; for he was meek in gratitude. 

Oft has he called those ecstasies to mind, 

And whence they flowed ; and from them he acquired 

Wisdom, which works thro' patience ; thence he learned 

In oft-recurring hours of sober thought 240 

To look on Nature with a humble heart. 

Self-questioned where he did not understand, 

And with a superstitious eye of love. 

So passed the time ; yet to the nearest town 
He duly went with what small overplus 
His earnings might supply, and brought away 
The book that most had tempted his desires 
While at the stall he read. Among the hills 
He gazed upon that mighty orb of song, 
The divine Milton. Lore of different kind, 250 

The annual savings of a toilsome life, 
His School-master supplied; books that explain 
The purer elements of truth involved 
In lines and numbers, and, by charm severe 
(Especially perceived where nature droops 
And feeling is suppressed), preserve the mind 
Busy in solitude and poverty. 
These occupations oftentimes deceived 
The listless hours, while in the hollow vale, 
Hollow and green, he lay on the green turf 260 

In pensive idleness. What could he do, 
Thus daily thirsting, in that lonesome life. 
With blind endeavours 1 Yet, still uppermost. 
Nature was at his heart as if he felt. 
Though yet he knew not how, a wasting power 
In all things that from her sweet influence 
Might tend to wean him. Therefore with her hues, 
Her forms, and with the spirit of her forms. 
He clothed the nakedness of austere truth. 


While yet he lingered in the rudiments 270 

Of science, and among her simplest laws, 

His triangles — they were the stars of heaven, 

The silent stars ! Oft did he take delight 

To measure the altitude of some tall crag 

That is the eagle's birth-place, or some peak 

Familiar with forgotten years, that shows 

Inscribed upon its visionary sides, 

The history of many a winter's storm, 

Or obscure records of the path of fire. 

And thus before his eighteenth year was told, 280 
Accumulated feelings pressed his heart 
With still increasing weight ; he was o'erpowered 
By Nature ; by the turbulence subdued 
Of his own mind ; by mystery and hope. 
And the first virgin passion of a soul 
Communing with the glorious universe. 
Full often wished he that the winds might rage 
When they were silent ; far more fondly now 
Than in his earlier season did he love 
Tempestuous nights — the conflict and the sounds 290 
That live in darkness. From his intellect 
And from the stillness of abstracted thought 
He asked repose ; and failing oft to win 
The peace required, he scanned the laws of light 
Amid the roar of torrents, where they send 
From hollow clefts up to the clearer air 
A cloud of mist, that smitten by the sun 
Varies its rainbow hues. But vainly thus. 
And vainly by all other means, he strove 
To mitigate the fever of his heart. 300 

In dreams, in study, and in ardent thought, 
Thus was he reared ; much wanting to assist 
The growth of intellect, yet gaimng more, 
And every moral feeling of his soul 
Strengthened and braced, by breathing in content 
The keen, the wholesome, air of poverty. 
And drinking from the well of homely life. 
— But, from past liberty, and tried restraints, 
He now was summoned to select the course 
Of humble industry that promised best 310 

To yield him no unworthy maintenance. 


Urged by his Mother, he essayed to teach 

A village school — ^but wandering thoughts were then 

A misery to him ; and the Youth resigned 

A task he was unable to perform. 

That stem yet kindly Spirit, who constrains 
The Savoyard to quit his naked rocks. 
The free-born Swiss lo leave his narrow vales 
(Spirit attached to regions mountainous 
Like their own steadfast clouds), did now impel 320 
His restless mind to look abroad with hope. 
— An irksome drudgery seems it to plod on, 
Through hot and dusty ways, or pelting storm, 
A vagrant Merchant under a heavy load 
Bent as he moves, and needing frequent rest ; 
Yet do such travellers find their own delight ; 
And their hard service, deemed debasing now, 
Gained merited respect in simpler times ; 
When squire, and priest, and they who round them dwelt 
In rustic sequestration — all dependent 330 

Upon the Pedlar's toil — supplied their wants. 
Or pleased their fancies, with the wares he brought. 
Not ignorant was the Youth that still no few 
Of his adventurous countrymen were led 
By perseverance in this track of life 
To competence and ease : — to him it offered 
Attractions manifold ; — and this he chose. 
— His Parents on the enterprise bestowed 
Their farewell benediction, but with hearts 
Foreboding evil. From his native hills 340 

He wandered far ; much did he see of men, 
Their manners, their enjoyments, and pursuits. 
Their passions and their feelings ; chiefly those 
Essential and eternal in the heart, 
That 'mid the simpler forms of rural life, 
Exist more simple in their elements. 
And speak a plainer language. In the woods, 
A lone Enthusiast, and among the fields. 
Itinerant in this labour, he had passed 
The better portion of his time ; and there 350 

Spontaneously had his affections thriven 
Amid the bounties of the year, the peace 
And liberty of nature ; there he kept 
In solitude and solitary thought 


His mind in a just equipoise of love. 

Serene it was, unclouded by the cares 

Of ordinary life; unvexed, un warped 

By partial bondage. In his steady course, 

No piteous revolutions had he felt, 

No wild varieties of joy and grief. 360 

Unoccupied by sorrow of its own, 

His heart lay open ; and, by Nature tuned 

And constant disposition of his thoughts 

To sympathy with man, he was alive 

To all that was enjoyed where'er he went, 

And all that was endured ; for, in himself 

Happy, and quiet in his cheerfulness. 

He had no painful pressure from without 

That made him turn aside from wretchedness 

With coward fears. He could afford to suffer 370 

With those whom he saw suffer. Hence it came 

That in our best experience he was rich. 

And in the wisdom of our daily life. 

For hence, minutely, in his various rounds. 

He had observed the progiess and decay 

Of many minds, of minds and bodies too ; 

The history of many families ; 

How they had prospered ; how they were overthrown 

By passion or mischance, or such misrule 

Among the unthinking masters of the earth 380 

As makes the nations groan. 

This active course 
He followed till provision for his wants 
Had been obtained ; — the Wanderer then resolved 
To pass the remnant of his days, untasked 
With needless services, from hardship free. 
His calling laid aside, he lived at ease : 
But still he loved to pace the public roads 
And the wild paths ; and, by the summer's warmth 
Invited, often would he leave his home 
And journey far, revisiting the scenes 390 

That to his memory were most endeared. 
— Vigorous in health, of hopeful spirits, undamped 
By worldly-mindedness or anxious care ; 
Observant, studious, thoughtful, and refreshed 
By knowledge gathered up from day to day ; 
Thus had he lived a long and innocent life. 


The Scottish Church, both on himself and those 
With whom from childhood he grew up, had held 
The strong hand of her purity ; and still 
Had watched him with an unrelenting eye. 400 

This he remembered in his riper age 
With gratitude, and reverential thoughts. 
But by the native vigour of his mind, 
By his habitual wanderings out of doors, 
By loneliness, and goodness, and kind works, 
Whatever, in docile childhood or in youth. 
He had imbibed of fear or darker thought 
Was melted all away ; so true was this, 
That sometimes his religion seemed to me 
Self-taught, as of a dreamer in the woods ; 410 

Who to the model of his own pure heart 
Shaped his belief, as grace divine inspired,. 
And human reason dictated with awe. 
— And surely never did there live on earth 
A man of kindlier nature. The rough sports 
And teasing ways of children vexed not him ; 
Indulgent listener was he to the tongue 
Of garrulous age ; nor did the sick man's tale, 
To his fraternal sympathy addressed, 
Obtain reluctant hearing. 420 

Plain his garb ; 
Such as might suit a rustic Sire, prepared 
For Sabbath duties ; yet he was a man 
Whom no one could have passed without remark. 
Active and nervous was his gait ; his limbs 
And his whole figure breathed intelligence. 
Time had compressed the freshness of his cheek 
Into a narrower circle of deep red. 
But had not tamed his eye ; that, under brows 
Shaggy and gray, had meanings which it brought 
From years of youth ; which, like a Being made 430 
Of many Beings, he had wondrous skill 
To blend with knowledge of the years to come. 
Human, or such as lie beyond the grave. 

So was He framed ; and such his course of life 
Who now, with no appendage but a staff, 


The prized memorial of relinquished toils, 

Upon that cottage-bench reposed his limbs, 

Screened from the sun. Supine the Wanderer lay, 

His eyes as if in drowsiness half shut, 

The shadows of the breezy elms above 440 

Dappling his face. He had not heard the sound 

Of my approaching steps, and in the shade 

Unnoticed did I stand some minutes' space. 

At length I hailed him, seeing that his hat 

Was moist with water-drops, as if the brim 

Had newly scooped a running stream. He rose, 

And ere our lively greeting into peace 

Had settled, * 'Tis,' said I, * a burning day : 

My lips are parched with thirst, but you, it seems, 

Have somewhere found relief.' He, at the word, 450 

Pointing to a sweet-briar, bade me climb 

The fence where that aspiring shrub looked out 

Upon the public way. It was a plot 

Of garden ground run wild, its matted weeds 

Marked with the steps of those, whom, as they passed, 

The gooseberry trees that shot in long lank slips, 

Or currants, hanging from their leafless stems, 

In scanty strings, had tempted to o'erleap 

The broken waJl. I looked around, and there. 

Where two tall hedgerows of thick alder boughs 460 

Joined in a cold damp nook, espied a well 

Shrouded with willow-flowers and plumy fern. 

My thirst I slaked, and, from the cheerless spot 

Withdrawing, straightway to the shade returned 

Where sate the old Man on the cottage-bench ; 

And while, beside him, with uncovered head, 

I yet was standing, freely to respire, 

And cool my temples in the fanning air, 

Thus did he speak. ' I see around me here, 

Things which you cannot see : we die, my Friend, 470 

Nor we alone, but that which each man loved 

And prized in his peculiar nook of earth 

Dies with him, or is changed ; and very soon 

Even of the good is no memorial left. 

— The Poets, in their elegies and songs 

Lamenting the departed, call the groves, 

They call upon the hills and streams to mourn. 

And senseless rocks ; nor idly ; for they speak, 


In these their invocations, with a voice 

Obedient to the strong creative power 480 

Of human passion. Sympathies there are 

More tranquil, yet perhaps of kindred birth, 

That steal upon the meditative mind, 

And grow with thought. Beside yon spring I stood. 

And eyed its waters till we seemed to feel 

One sadness, they and I. For them a bond 

Of brotherhood is broken : time has been 

When, every day, the touch of human hand 

Dislodged the natural sleep that binds them up 

In mortal stillness ; and they ministered 490 

To human comfort. Stooping down to drink, 

Upon the slimy foot-stone I espied 

The useless fragment of a wooden bowl. 

Green with the moss of years, and subject only 

To the soft handling of the elements : 

There let it lie — how foolish are such thoughts ! 

Forgive them ; — never — never did my steps 

Approach this door but she who dwelt within 

A daughter's welcome gave me, and I loved her 

As my own child. O sir ! the good die first, 500 

And they whose hearts are dry as summer dust 

Burn to the socket. Many a passenger 

Hath blessed poor Margaret for her gentle looks. 

When she upheld the cool refreshment drawn 

From that forsaken spring ; and no one came 

But he was welcome ; no one went away 

But that it seemed she loved him. She is dead, 

The light extinguished of her lonely hut, 

The hut itself abandoned to decay, 

And she forgotten in the quiet grave. 510 

* I speak,' continued he, * of one whose stock 
Of virtues bloomed beneath this lowly roof. 
She was a Woman of a steady mind. 
Tender and deep in her excess of love ; 
Not speaking much, pleased rather with the joy 
Of her own thoughts : by some especial care 
Her temper had been framed, as if to make 
A Being, who by adding love to peace 
Might live on earth a life of happiness. 
Her wedded partner lacked not on his side 520 


The humble worth that satisfied her heart : 

Frugal, affectionate, sober, and withal 

Keenly industrious. She with pride would tell 

That he was often seated at his loom, 

In summer, ere the mower was abroad 

Among the dewy grass, — in early spring, 

Ere the last star had vanished. — They who passed 

At evening, from behind the garden fence 

Might hear his busy spade, which he would ply, 

After his daily work, until the light 530 

Had failed, and every leaf and flower were lost 

in the dark hedges. So their days were spent 

In peace and comfort ; and a pretty boy 

Was their best hope, next to the God in heaven. 

Not twenty years ago, but you L think 
Can scarcely bear it now in mind, there came 
Two blighting seasons, when the fields were left 
With half a harvest. It pleased Heaven to add 
A worse affliction in the plague of war : 
This happy Land was stricken to the heart. 540 

A Wanderer then among the cottages, 
I, with my freight of winter raiment, saw 
The hardships of that season : many rich 
Sank down, as in a dream, among the poor. 
And of the poor did many cease to be, 
And their place knew them not. Meanwhile abridged 
Of daily comforts, gladly reconciled 
To numerous self-denials, Margaret 
Went struggling on through those calamitous years 
With cheerful hope, until the second autumn, 550 

When her life's Helpmate on a sick-bed lay. 
Smitten with perilous fever. In disease 
He lingered long ; and, when his strength returned. 
He found the little he had stored, to meet 
The hour of accident or crippling age, 
Was all consumed. A second infant now 
Was added to the troubles of a time 
Laden, for them and all of their degree. 
With care and sorrow ; shoals of artisans 
From ill-requited labour turned adrift 560 

Sought daily bread from public charity. 
They, and their wives and children — happier far 


Could they have lived as do the little birds 
That peck along the hedgerows, or the kite 
That makes her dwelling on the mountain rocks ! 

A sad reverse it was for him who long 
Had filled with plenty, and possessed in peace, 
This lonely Cottage. At the door he stood, 
And whistled many a snatch of merry tunes 
That had no mirth in them ; or with his knife 570 

Carved uncouth figures on the heads of sticks — 
Then, not less idly, sought, through every nook 
In house or garden, any casual work 
Of use or ornament ; and with a strange. 
Amusing, yet uneasy novelty. 
He mingled, where he might, the various tasks 
Of summer, autumn, winter, and of spring. 
But this endured not ; his good humour soon 
Became a weight in which no pleasure was ; 
And poverty brought on a petted mood 580 

And a sore temper : day by day he drooped. 
And he would leave his work — and to the town 
Would turn without an errand his slack steps ; 
Or wander here and there among the fields. 
One while he would speak lightly of his babes. 
And with a cruel tongue : at other times 
He tossed them with a false unnatural joy : 
And 'twas a rueful thing to see the looks 
Of the poor innocent children. " Every smile," 
Said Margaret to me, here beneath these trees, 590 
" Made my heart bleed.''' 

At this the Wanderer paused ; 
And, looking up to those enormous elms, 
He said : * 'Tis now the hour of deepest noon. 
At this still season of repose and peace, 
This hour when all things which are not at rest 
Are cheerful ; while this multitude of flies 
With tuneful hum is filling all the air ; 
Why should a tear be on an old Man's cheek ? 
Why should we thus, with an untoward mind, 
And in the weakness of humanity, 600 

From natural wisdom turn our hearts away ; \ 

To natural comfort shut our eyes and ears ; j 

c I 


And feeding on disquiet, thus disturb 

The cahn of nature with our restless thoughts ? ' 

He spake with somewhat of a solemn tone : 

But, when he ended, there was in his face 

Such easy cheerfulness, a look so mild, 

That for a little time it stole away 

All recollection ; and that simple tale 

Passed from my mind like a forgotten sound. 6io 

Awhile on trivial things we held discourse. 

To me soon tasteless. In my own despite, 

I thought of that poor Woman as of one 

Whom I had known and loved. He had rehearsed 

Her homely tale with such familiar power, 

With such an active countenance, an eye 

So busy, that the things of which he spake 

Seemed present ; and, attention now relaxed, 

A heart-felt chillness crept along my veins. 

I rose ; and, having left the breezy shade, 620 

Stood drinking comfort from the warmer sun. 

That had not cheered me long— ere, looking round 

Upon that tranquil Ruin, I returned, 

And begged of the old Man that, for my sake, 

He would resume his story. 

He replied : 
* It were a wantonness, and would demand 
Severe reproof, if we were men whose hearts 
Could hold vain dalliance with the misery 
Even of the dead ; contented thence to draw 
A momentary pleasure, never marked 630 

By reason, barren of all future good. 
But we have known that there is often found 
In mournful thoughts, and always might be found, 
A power to virtue friendly : were 't not so, 
I am a dreamer among men, indeed 
An idle dreamer ! Tis a common tale, 
An ordinary sorrow of man's life, 
A tale of silent suffering, hardly clothed 
In bodily form. — But without further bidding 
I will proceed. 640 


While thus it fared with them, 
To whom this cottage, till those hapless years, 
Had been a blessed home, it" was my chance 
To travel in a country far remote; 
And when these lofty elms once more appeared 
What pleasant expectations lured me on \ 
O'er the flat Common ! — With quick step I reached 
The threshold, lifted with light hand the latch ; 
But, when I entered, Margaret looked at me 
A little while ; then turned her head away 
Speechless, — and, sitting down upon a chair, 650 

Wept bitterly. 1 wist not what to do. 
Nor how to speak to her. Poor Wretch ! at last 
She rose from off her seat, and then, — O sir ! 
I cannot tell how she pronounced my name : — 
With fervent love, and with a face of grief 
Unutterably helpless, and a look 
That seemed to cling upon me, she inquired 
If I had seen her husband. As she spake ' 
A strange surprise and fear came to my heart, 
Nor had I power to answer ere she told 660 

That he had disappeared —not two months gone. 
He left his house : two wretched days had passed, 
And on the third, as wistfully she raised 
Her head from off her pillow, to look forth, 
Like one in trouble, for returning light. 
Within her chamber-casement she espied 
A folded paper, lying as if placed 
To meet her waking eyes. This tremblingly 
She opened-*-found no writing, but beheld 
Pieces of money carefully enclosed, 670 

Silver and gold. " I shuddered at the sight," 
Said Margaret, " for I knew it was his hand 
That must have placed it there ; and ere that day 
Was ended, that long anxious day, I learned, ■ 
From one who by my husband had been sent 
With the sad news, that he had joined a troop 
Of soldiers, going to a distant land. 
— He left me thus — he could not gather heart 
To take a farewell of me ; for he feared 
That I should follow with my babes, and sink 680 

Beneath the misery of that wandering life." 


This tale did Margaret tell with many tears ; 
And, when she ended, I had little power 
To give her comfort, and was glad to take 
Such words of hope from her own mouth as served 
To cheer us both. But long we had not talked 
Ere we built up a pile of better thoughts, 
And with a brighter eye she looked around 
As if she had been shedding tears of joy. 
We parted. — 'Twas the time of early spring ; 690 

I left her busy with her garden tools ; 
And well remember, o'er that fence she looked, 
And, while I paced along the foot-way path, 
Called out, and sent a blessing after me, 
With tender cheerfulness, and with a voice 
That seemed the very sound of happy thoughts. 

I roved o'er many a hill and many a dale. 
With my accustomed load ; in heat and cold. 
Through many a wood and many an open ground, 
In sunshine and in shade, in wet and fair, 700 

Drooping or blithe of heart, as might befall ; 
My best companions now the driving winds, 
And now the "trotting brooks" and whispering trees, 
And now the music of my own sad steps, 
With many a short-lived thought that passed between, 
And disappeared. 

I journeyed back this way, 
When, in the warmth of midsummer, the wheat 
Was yellow ; and the soft and bladed grassy 
Springing afresh, had o'er the hay-field spread 
Its tender verdure. At the door arrived, 710 

I found that she was absent. In the shade. 
Where now we sit, I waited her return. 
Her cottage, then a cheerful object, wore 
Its customary look, — only, it seemed, 
The honeysuckle, crowding round the porch. 
Hung down in heavier tufts ; and that bright weed, 
The yellow stone-crop, suffered to take root 
Along the window's edge, profusely grew 
Blinding the lower panes. I turned aside. 
And strolled into her garden. It appeared 720 

To lag behind the season, and had lost 
Its pride of neatness. Daisy-flowers and thrift 

Ibook I.] THE WANDERER. 37 

Had broken their trim border-lines, and straggled 
O'er paths they used to deck : carnations, once 
Prized for surpassing beauty, and no less 
For the peculiar pains they had required. 
Declined their languid heads, wanting support. 
The cumbrous bindweed, with its wreaths and bells, 
Had twined about her two small rows of peas, 
And dragged them to the earth. 730 

Ere this an hour 
Was wasted. — Back I turned my restless steps ; 
A stranger passed ; and, guessing whom I sought. 
He said that she was used to ramble far. — 
The sun was sinking in the west ; and now 
I sate with sad impatience. From within 
Her solitary infant cried aloud ; 
Then, like a blast that dies away self-stilled, 
The voice was silent. From the bench I rose ; 
But neither could divert nor soothe my thoughts. 
The spot, though fair, was very desolate — 740 

The longer I remained, more desolate ; 
And, looking round me, now I first observed 
The corner stones, on either side the porch. 
With dull red stains discoloured, and stuck o*er 
With tufts and hairs of wool, as if the sheep, 
That fed upon the Common, thither came 
Familiarly, and found a couching-place 
Even at her threshold. Deeper shadows fell 
From these tall elms ; the cottage-clock struck eight ; — 
1 turned, and saw her distant a few steps. 750 

Her face was pale and thin — her figure too 
Was changed. As she unlocked the door, she said : 
" It grieves me you have waited here so long. 
But, in good truth, I Ve wandered much of late ; 
And sometimes — to my shame I speak — have need 
Of my best prayers to bring me back again." 
While on the board she spread our evening meal. 
She told me — interrupting not the work 
Which gave employment to her listless hands — 
That she had parted with her elder child ; 760 

To a kind master on a distant farm 
Now happily apprenticed. — " I perceive 
You look at me, and you have cause ; to-day 
I have been travelling far ; and many days 


About the fields I wander, knowing this 

Only, that what I seek I cannot find ; 

And so I waste my time : for I am changed ; 

And to myself," said she, "have done much wrong, 

And to this helpless infant. I have slept 

Weeping, and weeping have I waked ; my tears 770 

Have flowed as if my body were not such 

As others are ; and I could never die. 

But I am now in mind and in my heart 

More easy ; and I hope," said she, " that God 

Will give me patience to endure the things 

Which I behold at home." 

It would have grieved 
Your very soul to see her. Sir, I feel 
The story linger in my heart ; I fear 
'Tis long and tedious ; but my spirit clings 
To that poor Woman : — so familiarly 780 

Do I perceive her manner, and her look, 
And presence ; and so deeply do I feel 
Her goodness, that, not seldom, in my walks 
A momentary trance comes over me ; 
And to myself I seem to muse on one 
By sorrow laid asleep ; or borne away, 
A human being destined to awake 
To human life, or something very near 
To human life, when he shall come again 
For whom she suffered. Yes, it would have grieved 790 
Your very soul to see her : evermore 
Her eyelids drooped, her eyes downward were cast ; 
And, when she at her table gave me food, 
She did not look at me. Her voice was low. 
Her body was subdued. In every act 
Pertaining to her house affairs, appeared 
The careless stillness of a thinking mind 
Self-occupied ; to which all outward things 
Are like an idle matter. Still she sighed. 
But yet no motion of the'breast was seen, 800 

No heaving of the heart. While by the fire 
We sate together, sighs came on my ear, 
I knew not how, and hardly whence they came. 

Ere my departure, to her care I gave. 
For her son's use, some tokens of regard, 


Which ynth a look of welcome she received ; 

And I exhorted her to place her trust 

In God's good love, and seek His help by prayer. 

I took my staff, and, when I kissed her babe. 

The tears stood in her eyes. I left her then 810 

With the best hope and comfort I could give : 

She thanked me for my wish ;— but for my hope 

It seemed she did not thank me. 

I returned, 
And took my rounds along this road again 
When on its sunny bank the primrose flower 
Peeped forth, to give an earnest of the Spring. 
I found her sad and drooping : she had learned 
No tidings of her husband ; if he lived, 
She knew not that he lived ; if he were dead. 
She knew not he was dead. She seemed tiie same 820 
In person and appearance ; but her house 
Bespake a sleepy hand of negligence ; 
The floor was neither dry nor neat, the hearth 
Was comfortless, and her small lot of books. 
Which, in the cottage window, heretofore 
Had been piled up against the corner panes 
In seemly order, now, with straggling leaves. 
Lay scattered here and there, open or shut, 
As they had chanced to fall. Her infant babe 
Had from its mother caught the trick of grief, 830 

And sighed among its playthings. I withdrew. 
And once again entering the garden, saw, 
More plainly still, that poverty and grief 
Were now come nearer to her : weeds defaced 
The hardened soil, and knots of withered grass ; 
No ridges there appeared of clear black mould, 
No winter greenness ; of her herbs and flowers. 
It seemed the better part were gnawed away 
Or trampled into earth ; a chain of straw, 
Which had been twined about the slender stem 840 
Of a young apple-tree, lay at its root ; 
The bark was nibbled round by truant sheep. 
— Margaret stood near, her infant in her arms. 
And, noting that my eye was on the tree. 
She said : " I fear it will be dead and gone. 
Ere Robert come again." When to the house 
We had returned together, she inquired 


If I had any hope : — but for her babe 

And for her little orphan boy, she said, 

She had no wish to live, that she must die 850 

Of sorrow. Yet I saw the idle loom 

Still in its place ; his Sunday garments hung 

Upon the self-same nail ; his very staff 

Stood undisturbed behind the door. 

And when. 
In bleak December, I retrace^ this way. 
She told me that her little babe was dead, 
And she was left alone. She now, released 
From her maternal cares, had taken up 
The employment common through these wilds, and 

By spinning hemp, a pittance for herself ; 860 

And for this end had hired a neighbour's boy 
To give her needful help. That very time 
Most willingly she put her work aside, 
And walked with me along the miry road, 
Heedless how far ; and in such piteous sort 
That any heart had ached to hear her, begged 
That, wheresoever I went, I still would ask 
For him whom she had lost. We parted then — 
Our final parting ; for from that time forth 
Did many seasons pass ere I returned 870 

Into this tract again. 

Nine tedious years ; 
From their first separation, nine long years. 
She lingered in unquiet widowhood ; 
A Wife and Widow. Needs must it have been 
A sore heart-wasting ! I have heard, my Friend, 
That in yon arbour oftentimes she sate 
Alone through half the vacant Sabbath-day ; 
And, if a dog passed by, she still would quit 
The shade, and look abroad. On this old bench 
For hours she sate ; and evermore her eye 880 

Was busy in the distance, shaping things 
That made her heart beat quick. You see that path. 
Now faint, — the grass has crept o'er its gray line : 
There, to and fro, she paced through many a day 
Of the warm summer, from a belt of hemp 
That girt her waist, spinning the long-drawn thread 
With backward steps. Yet ever as there passed 


A man whose gannents shewed the soldier's red, 

Or crippled mendicant in sailor's garb, 

The little child who sate to turn the wheel 890 

Ceased from his task ; and she with faltering voice 

Made many a fond inquiry ; and when they, 

Whose presence gave no comfort, were g^ne by, 

Her heart was still more sad. And by yon gate. 

That bars the traveller's road, she often stood, 

And when a stranger horseman came, the latch 

Would lift, and in his face look wistfully : 

Most happy, if, from aught discovered there 

Of tender feeling, she might dare repeat 

The same sad question. Meanwhile her poor Hut 900 

Sank to decay ; for he was gone, whose hand. 

At the first nipping of October frost, 

Closed up each chink, and with fresh bands of straw 

Checkered the green-grown thatch. And so she lived 

Through the long winter, reckless and alone ; 

Until her house by frost, and thaw, and rain. 

Was sapped; and while she slept, the nightly damps 

Did chill her breast ; and in the stormy day 

Her tattered clothes were ruffled by the wind. 

Even at the side of her own fire. Yet still 910 

She loved this wretched spot, nor would for worlds 

Have parted hence ; and still that length of road, 

And this rude bench, one torturing hope endeared. 

Fast rooted at her heart : and here, my Friend, — 

In sickness she remained ; and here she died ; 

Last human tenant of these ruined walls ! ' 

The old Man ceased: he saw that I was moved; 
From that low bench, rising instinctively 
I turned aside in weakness, nor had power 
To thank him for the tale which he had told. 920 

I stood, and leaning o'er the garden wall 
Reviewed that Woman's sufferings ; and it seemed 
To comfort me while with a brother's love 
I blessed her in the impotence of grief. 
Then towards the cottage I returned ; and traced 
Fondly, though with an interest more mild, 
That secret spirit of humanity 
Which, 'mid the calm oblivious tendencies 
Of nature, 'mid her plants, and weeds, and flowers, 


And silent overgrowings, still survived. 930 

The old Man, noting this, resumed, and said : 

* My Friend ! enough to sorrow you have given, 

The purposes of wisdom ask no more : 

Nor more would she have craved as due to one 

Who, in h^ worst distress, had oft-times felt 

The unbounded might of prayer ; and learned, with soul 

Fixed on the Cross, that consolation springs. 

From sources deeper far than deepest pain. 

For the meek Sufferer. Why then should we read 

The forms of things with an unworthy eye ? 940 

She sleeps in the calm earth, and peace is here. 

I well remember that those very plumes, 

Those weeds, and the high spear-grass on that wall, 

By mist and silent rain-drops silvered o'er, 

As once I passed, into my heart conveyed 

So still an image of tranquillity. 

So calm and still, and looked so beautiful 

Amid the uneasy thoughts which filled my mind. 

That what we feel of sorrow and despair 

From ruin and from change, and all the grief 95a 

That passing shows of Being leave behind. 

Appeared an idle dream, that could maintain 

Nowhere dominion o'er the enlightened spirit 

Whose meditative sympathies repose 

Upon the breast of Faith. I turned away. 

And walked along my road in happiness.' 

He ceased. Ere long the sun declining shot 
A slant and mellow radiance, which began 
To fall upon us, while beneath the trees 
We sate on that low bench : and now we felt, 960 

Admonished thus, the sweet hour coming on. 
A linnet warbled from those lofty elms, 
A thrush sang loud, and other melodies. 
At distance heard, peopled the milder air. 
The old Man rose, and with a sprightly mien 
Of hopeful preparation, grasped his staff ; 
Together casting then a farewell look 
Upon those silent walls, we left the shade. 
And, ere the stars were visible, had reached 
A village inn, — our evening resting-place. 970 


Book I. — The Wanderer. 

2 Southward the landscape indistinctly glared^ sq, Cf. the 
following lines from the Evening Walk, written between 1787 
and 1789, some twenty-five years before the publication of the 
Excursion, of which the first book was, however, written about 
the same date : — * 

"When in the south the wan noon, brooding still. 
Breathed a pale steam around the glaring hill. 
And shades of deep-embattled clouds were seen. 
Spotting the northern cliffs with lights between." 
Landscape, Germ, landschaft, a, word we have borrowed from 
the Dutch artists : scape, or schap, is the Dutch form of the 
English affix, ship, from the Saxon scapan, to shape. 

3 Downs, This is the same word as dunes. The meaning 
seems to be *high flats.' A *dune* is used by the Dutch and 
on the east coast of England for a sand-bank by the sea side ; 
hence * the Downs,* the well-known anchorage off the Kentish 

For the meaning oi flat, 

Cf. '* Betwixt them lawns or level downs, and flocks 
Grazing the tender herb, were interposed." 

— Milton, P, Z., bk. iv. 252. 
For the meaning of height, 

Cf. ** Thei gon the downes and the dales 

With weppyng and with wofull tales." 

— GowER, Con/essio Am., bk. iv. 
The wbrd appears in Dun-kirk. 

4 Ascending. Express this idea in prose. 

5 Dappled. The connection of this word with apple seems 
very doubtfiil, although the variegated colour of the fruit has 
given to the French pomtneli a similar meaning. 

6 Brooding, Sax. bredan, to cherish or nourish, as a bird her 
young, so to hang constantly over a thing. Brood is connected 
with bread (Germ, brod) and breed. 


7 Determined^ i.e, clearly defined. Lat. terminus^ a boundary. 
ID Extends his careless limbs, 

Cf. ** Jacentes sic temere." — Horace^ Odes^ IT. ii. 14. 
Is careless an epithet here ? 

1 1 Ceilingy anciently written sylling, appears to be the same 
word which occurs in door-sill^ and to have originally meant 
*wood' or * planking.' It is thus not connected with the Fr. 
ciely Lat. caelum, of which the primary meaning is 'hollow.* 
Milton applies * ceiling ' to the sky — 

** And now the thickened sky 
Like a dark ceding stood,** — P, Z., bk. xi. 742. 

12 Twilight. Twi is a form of the same root that appears in 
tween, Twi-light, i.e, 'between light and darkness.* Cf. Lat. 
interlunium, the space between two moons. 

13 Where the wren warbles. Probably the willow- wren [sylvia 
trochzlus), as the note of the common wren, though very notice- 
able in the winter, is much less striking than those of our 
summer * warblers * properly so called. 

15 fVith side-long eye. Cf. a sonnet of S. T. Coleridge — 

"With head bent low 
And cheek aslant, see rivers flow of gold 
'Twixt crimson banks." 

16 By power of that impending covert. The effect of looking 
at a picture through a tube or roll of paper is well known. 

21 A hypermetric line, uncommon in Wordsworth, although 
fully sanctioned. With Milton lines ending like this in a present 
participle are frequent. 

32 72? my wish; i.e. *in accordance with,* as in the common 
phrases, * to my great joy,' &c. 

34 Hale. Connected with whole, heal, 
36 Recumbent. 

*' The cattle mourn in comers, where the fence 
Screens them, and seem half petrified to sleep 
In unrecumbent sadness.** 

— CowPER, A Winter Morning Walk, 1. 27. 

45 Stricken by the sight. This form of the past participle is 
almost always used in a bad sense ; e.g, * its^x- stricken,* 
''^stricken of God and afflicted." Again, in 1. 540, "This happy 
land was stricken to the heart." For a similar special use of 
the weak and strong participial forms, cf. loaded and laden, 

46 Slackened, What is the force of the en in 'slackened*? 
Trace the different meanings of 'to slake.* 

49 Nothing willingly. Cf. the common phrase 'nothing 
loth.' The expression is illustrated by the derivation of not, 
naught, no whit, 

53 In the antique market-village. This may be an allusion to 
Ha wkshead, where Wordsworth passed his school-days, and which 


he elsewhere calls "our small market- village " — Prelude^ ii. 34. 
Vid. Life, What connection is there between antique and antic ? 

55 Drew; i.e. 'withdrew.' So in Shakespeare, filed for 
defiled, ware for aware, &c. 

56 Harbour, Fr. hdberger, auberge. Here in its original 
meaning of 'shelter,' which was afterwards specialized as 
shelter for vessels, a port. 

61 Comrade. From camera, a chamber, Gk. Kii/Jiapa, tretum 
armatum (Richardson), so * those who are lodged in one cham- 
ber.* The word is found spelt camerade in Evelyn, Character 
of Englaful, 

62 Ramble, Skinner suggests re-ambulare. The meaning is 
an extension of that of amble, which is used of moving with 
short easy steps ; e.g, 

"The skipping king, he ambled up and down." 

— ^Shakespeare, Henry IV., pt. i. ii. 3. 
Ramble thus means ambling at random. The existence of 
amble, which is certainly derived from the Lat. ambulare, *to 
walk,* through the French ambler, makes Skinner's derivation 
of ramble the more probable. 

64 Touched. Abstrusest matter. Put this into prose. Cicero 
has the same metaphor in "Egomet qui leviter graecas literas 

65 Abstruse, from Lat. ab-trudoy thrust away (Crom observa- 
tion) ; so, difficult to be understood. 

Matter ^= 'topics,' answering exactly to the Lat. res. A/otter, 
Lat. materia, was originally a philosophic term, being opposed 
to 'mind;* mind and matter together constituting the whole 

Reasonings of the mind turned inward ; i.e. that difficult 
kind of inquiry in which the mind observes and reasons about 
its own operations. Wordsworth may have had in mind his 
metaphysical talks with Coleridge upon the Quantock hills, in 
Somersetshire, as the description of the youth of the Wanderer 
has manifest reference to his own earlier years. 

68 Skilful distribution of sweet sounds, Shakespeare describes 
music as 

"The true concord of well-tun^d sounds.** — Sonnet viii. 
The idea conveyed by distribution may be paralleled by — 
"They say the lark makes sweet division.^'* 

— Rom, and Jul., IIL v. 29. 
And again — 

" And all the while sweet music did divide 
Her looser notes with Lydian harmony.'* 

— Faery Queene, IH. L 40. 
70 By the care 

Of the industrious husbandman, diffused, &c. 


" Deinde satis flaviom inducit, rivosque sequentis I 
£t quom exustus ager morientibus sestuat herbis, 
Ecce ! supercilio clivosi tramitis undam 
Elicit ! ilia cadens rarum per levia murmur 
Saxa ciet, scatebrisque arentia temperat arva.'* 

— ViRG., Georg, i. io6. 
74 In riper d^ys. Cf. the common expressions ^ripe old age,' 
* mature manhood/ 

76 In the plain presence of his dignity ; i.e. * In the presence 
of his simple dignity.* Cf. ** Holy and humble men of heart." 

This figure in Greek is called Hypallage. 

Such use of language as the above is not, however, after 
Wordsworth's manner, and the context, viz. the emphasis on 
riper days and weigh with care^ makes it possible that * plain ' 
may qualify 'presence,' meaning *now for the first time plain.' 

77 The 'poet' (iroiijr^c), or 'producer,' is not unfittingly 
likened to a seed. 

78 Endowed. Skinner makes endue and endew to be various 
spellings of this word, which is derived, through the French 
doner, from the Lat. dos, Gr. ^wf, as dower, dowry. ** Endowed 
with gifts " is thus strictly pleonastic. 

79 The vision and the faculty divine. 

Cf. " The consecration and the poet's dream." 

— On a Picture of Peele Castle, 1. 15. 

80 That part of poetry which can properly be called an art, 
Wordsworth attempts to describe in his preface to the Lyrical 
Ballads, published in 1798. The poet is not, however, always 
a sincere follower of his own precepts as there laid down, 
especially the injunction in favour of the use of simple and even 
rustic language. The latter in his higher and more imaginative 
passages he finds quite inadequate to express his meaning. The 
preface is interesting as the first formal protest against the con- 
ventional conceits of Dryden and Pope. 

8 1 Docile season of their youth ; i.e. the season in which they 
were young, and consequently easily taught. 

83 The inspiring aid of books. * Inspiring ' here in the sense 
of stimulating latent power, rather than of supplying * inspira- 
tion' in the ordinary sense of the word. 

84 Temper too severe ; i,e, a too logical or critical habit of 

85 Nice backwardness. Nice, i.e. over-sensitive, the old mean- 
ing of the word : e.g. 

" In term^ of choice I am not solely led 
By nice direction of a maiden's eyes." 

— Shakespeare, M. of Ven., II. i. 13. 
" But if you will be nice to foul your fingers, which few good 
anglers are." — Izaak Walton, Complete Angler. 


87 To take unto the height, &c. ; ue. to take the full measure 
of their poetic powers. 

90 Husbanding, Here = foolishly hoarding, an invidious 
application of husband in the sense of economising. (Fr. menager.) 
The derivation of the word husbond seems a little uncertain. 
It is probably from * house ' (Germ, haus), and an A. S. word 
meaning to 'inhabit.* The double meaning of a * married man,' 
and the use of the compound, in the sense of economising, is 
hinted by Chaucer — 

"^e take no wife quod he of husbondrie. 
As for to spare in household thy dispence.'' 

— Marchantes Tale, 1. 9173. 

That which they possess within. It is not clear whether within 
should be immediately connected with * husbanding' or * possess.' 
It may be fairly said to apply to both. 

91 Strongest minds, &c. Cf. **The world knows little of its 
greatest men.'* 

**Nec vixit.male qui natus moriensque fefellit." 

— Horace, Ep. i. 17. 10. 

93 Had not left. What is the Protasis to this conditional 
sentence? * Had not,* for the more strictly grammatical 'would 
not have,* is not uncommon in English, although confined in 
modem times to poets. The use may be explained by regarding 
the event contemplated in the Protasis as having actually occurred, 
so that the Apodosis naturally falls into a simple historic Pluper- 
feet. . 

Cf. ** Me truncus illapsus cerebro 
Sustulerat nisi Faunus ictum 
Dextra levasset." — HoR., Od. it 17, 27. 

94 Graces. Gk. xdptc, properly a gift. 

95 ** The light that never was on sea or land.'* 

— Peek Castle, 1. 14. 
As == * since,' so == * thus ' or ' in consequence.' 
100 77ie fteling pleasures of his loneliness ; i.e. the pleasures 
that accompanied his feeling of loneliness. 

loi Observations. May be constructed either with *set in 
view* or * record.* The former seems preferable, as preserving 
intact the parallelism of 'some* and 'something' in the pre- 
ceding lines. 

103 Which, if with truth it correspond, &c, (Construction) 
*And this verse .... the Muses shall accept and Time reward.* 

Sinh or rise ; i.e. be a simple chronicle of simple facts, or rise 
under the influence of natursil sympathy into passionate descrip- 
tion and far-reaching thought. 

104 Venerable nature. Venerable in its proper sense of * whom 
I should and do revere.* Tlie use of 'venerable* as a synonym 


for * old ' is a marked index of the strength of man's reverence 
for age. 

105 The high and tender Muses. High and tender substi- 
tuted for the more common epithets heavenly and gentle. 

106 Deliberately pleased ; i,e. that supreme Spirit of Poetry 
which the poet serves shall never have occasion to alter the 
fevourable judgment she has given. By spirit of poetry is meant 
that appreciation of what is beautiful and true which is found 
in the finest natures, in all countries, and in all times. 

108 Athol is a district among 'the hills of Perthshire, in 
Scotland. ^ 

113 Pure livers. Cf. * Evil livers ' of the English Prayer-book. 

115 Stern; i.e. 'uncompromising.' 

116 Piety. Referring rather to the outward aspect of religion. 

117 With strictness scarcely known on English ground. 
Cf. **The Scottish Church, both on himself and those 

With whom from childhood he grew up, had held 
The strong hand of her purity ; and still 
Had watdied him with an unrelenting eye." — 1. 397. 
119 Cattle. This is the sdme word as * chattel* in * goods 
and chattels,' and is derived from the Lat. capitate, whence also 
catullum, the principal of money lent. (English, capital.) Capi- 
tate, in its later form capiale, was used of beasts of the farm (cf. 
the English phrase, ^'headoi cattle,* game, &c.), and as these 
were in early times the most important kind of property, chattels 
became used of property in general. Cf. the derivation of 
pecunia, * money,' ivompicus. 

" For litel was hir catel and hir rente.*' 

— Chaucer, Nonne Prest his Tale, 1. 7. 

121 Long-continuing winter. The Scottish winter is neces- 
sarily long in so northern a latitude, but there is a further idea 
of 'tediousness,' which is well illustrated by a beautiful sonnet 
of David Gray, banning, 

•* O winter, wilt thou never, never go? 
O summer, but I weary for thy coming." 

Repaired. Through the old French repairer, from the low 
Lat repatriare, 'to return to one's native land.' 'To repair,' 
meaning *to mend,' comes from the Lat. reparare. 

122 Equipped, Through the Fr. iauiper, old Fr. esquipper, 
from a low Lat word, eschipare, 'to nt as a ship for sea,' and 
connected with ^ skiff,* *ship.* For the disappearance of the j, 
cf. Fr. icu, from the Lat scutum. 

Satchel. Fr. sachet, low Lat sacculus, a diminutive of saccus, 
Gk. <r(iirjcos, a bag. The English word is old : ' Gyue ye alms, 
and make to you sachets that wexen not oold." 

— Luke xii. 35, Wicliffe. 


"And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel and shining 
morning face, creeping like a snail, unwillingly to school." 

— Shakespeare, As you Like it, ii. 7, 145. 

124 City spire. Spires and chimes are taken as the most 
striking features of a large city. Spir^, in the sense of a building 
tapering to a point, is obtained from the diminishing of a * spiral ' 
line (trretpa), which was the original meaning of the word. 
The spire was at first merely an exaggeration of the high peaked 
roof of the houses of northern Europe, and is thus naturally an 
ornament peculiar to Gothic architecture. 

125 Minster. Low Lat. tftonasterium, a church attached to 
a monastery (Gk. fiovog, * alone '). 

128 Grow larger in the darkness. This well-known appearance 
is due partly to physical and partly to mental causes. Physical 
laws produce indistinctness of vision in twilight. How they do so 
cannot be adequately explained in a short note. A mental law 
forces us to infer from increasing indistinctness increasing magni- 
tude. For as objects known to be at a distance are always seen to 
be indistinct, indistinctness always has a tendency to bring with 
it the idea of great distance. And as we can infer real from 
apparent magnitude only when the distance of the object is 
known, any exaggeration of distance implies a corresponding 
exaggeration in the inferred real magnitude. 

131 Confess ; i.e. * express in words.' 

133 In such communion ; i.e. communication with nature. 
Not from terror free. Terror, as Burke has pointed out, 

is one of the chief elements of the sublime. Compare Byron's 

description of his love for the ocean — 

"From a boy 
I wantoned with thy breakers — they to me 
Were a delight ; and if the freshening sea 
Made them a terror, 'twas a pleasing fear. " 

134 His time ; i.e. the age when he would naturally, if ever, 
have such high thoughts. 

136 Deep feelings had impressed, &c. This is rather the 
double expression of a single idea ; for objects can be only 
known to be great by impressing us with deep feelings. In the 
edition of 1846 the end of the sentence is as follows : 
. . . "like substances whose presence 
Perplexed the bodily sense." 
The passage is one of the many expressions of what may be 
called Wordsworth's * Idealism.' External things produced in 
him such intense feelings, that he came to regard these feelings 
or impressions as the sole realities, while the very senses through 
which alone these impressions came appeared sources of obstruc- 
tion and illusion. 

Compare the following : 



"That serene and blessed mood 
In which the affections gently lead us on 
Until the breath of this corporeal frame, 
And even the motion of our human blood. 
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep 
In body, and become a living soul." 

— lAnes ivntten abovs Tintem. 
** Such a holy calm 
Would overspread my soul that bodily eyes 
Were utterly forgotten ; and what I saw 
Appearefl like something in myself, a dream, 
A prospect of the mind. ' — Prelude, 

142 Shapes and forms. * Shapes * might be applied more 
naturally to inorganic, * forms* to oi^nic substances; but it is 
probably only an instance of cumulative force. 

144 Dimmer character ; i.e. dimmer than these impressions. 
'Character' is here used in its proper original sense of 'en- 
graving* (x^paKT- J7|j, xcL^dtrtntv). 

** And he schal make alle, smale and greete .... to have a 
carecter in hir right bond." — Revelation xiii. 16, WiCLlFFE. 

**Thy gift, thy fables, are within my brain, 
Full character d with lasting memory !" 

— Shakespeare, bonnets, 122. 

If e thence attained ; i.e. by possessing a standard of distinct- 
ness by which he could measure the vividness of his impressions. 

145 An active po7ver to fasten ; i.e. not merely a passive 
capacity for receiving, but an active faculty of retaining. 

146 Pictured; i.e. 'imagined.' 

147 The liveliness of dreams. These * pictured * lines seemed 
to belong to real life as much as a dream to the dreamer. 

151 Moving seasons ; «>. ever changing. 

152 7^0 feed such appetite. ^Swh,^ i.e. appetite of ear or eye. 

Cf. "A skilful distribution of sweet sounds 
Feeding the soul." — I. 69. 
.... " his spirit ^m»^ 
The spectacle. — 1. 206. 

153 The after-day of boyhood. As we talk of the afternoon of 

157 Or from the paiuer^ &c. 'Or' = 'either,* 'it may be,* 
'vel'-'vel. It may be from a power to see more than other eyes 
would notice. 

158 Or by creative feelings &c. Or overcome by an impulse 
to give some of the exuberant life and changing thoughts of his 
own mind a visible form external to himself. 

159 Or by predominance of thought^ &c. It may be thinking 
so intensely as to be unable to prevent his thoughts from ming- 

BOOK I.] NOTEwS. 51 

ling and associatin;j themselves with his perception of the rocks 
at which he was looking. Cf. 1. 136, note. 

161 He tnueti^ &c. An admirable illustration of what Ruskin 
calls "the Pathetic Fallacy," by which is meant the attributing 
to inanimate objects the feelings and passions of animate beings. 
The rocks, by reason of their shifting shades and colours, seemed 
to him to participate in the ever-changing moods of the mind of 

165 And many a legend^ peopling the dark woods. Such, for 
instance, as that of the "phantom hunters,'* described in the 
Evening VVaik^ or the legend of the Gabriel Hounds alluded to 
in the second book of the Excursion. 

167 What is meant by * apprehensive*? Distinguish 'com- 

169 Th^ morai properties and scope of things ; i.e. the intimate 
connection of the material and moral world — the world of nature 
and of human nature — ^by which certain scenes and material 
facts are connected with corresponding emotions in the human, 
mind. * Moral* qualifies both 'properties' and 'scope,' the 
former referring to the nature, the latter to the extent of the 
above connection. 

174 Records. Such, for instance, as Fox's famous Book of 

175 Persecution^ and the Covenant. The Scottish 'Covenant,' 
or, as it was then termed, the " Solemn League and Covenant," 
was a statement of the doctrines cff the Presbyterians, with a 
vow to maintain them. Their chief positive tenets were jiarity 
of ministers and a church government independent of Papists 
and Episcopalians. The Reformation in Scotland differed 
widely from that which took place in England, and resembled 
rather, in its origin at least, the Reformation in Germany. In 
England the Reformation proceeded from the throne to the 
nation ; in Scotland, from the nation to the throne. The 
Covenant, the symbol of the national religion of Scotland, was 
drawn up in 1638, in the reign of Charles I., in consequence of 
an attempt on the part of the king to impose the English 
Litui^ on the Scottish nation. It was at once embraced by 
the whole people, with the exception of persons holding public 
offices, and a few Catholics. The Covenanters, though at fii-st 
too formidable to be opposed, were treated by the English 
Government with more and more severity. Under Charles II. 
a "Declaration of Indulgence" was granted to those who 
accepted portions of the English Liturgy ; but many Scots held 
the claim of the "Solemn League and Covenant" paramount 
to all else. They attended their conventicles in arms, and often 
openly rebelled. "They were easily defeated, and mercilessly 
punished. Hunted down like wild beasts, tortured until their 


bones were beaten flat, imprisoned by hundreds, hanged by 
scores, exposed to the license of English soldiers, and the mercy 
of Highland marauders, they stood at bay in a mood so savage 
that the boldest and mightiest oppressor could not but dread the 
audacity of their despair." — Macau lay. For some twenty-eight 
years the persecution of the Covenanters was unremitting ; but 
it was in 1685 that it reached its climax. James II. obtained in 
that year from the Scottish Parliament the passing of the most 
sanguinary laws ever enacted against Protestant Nonconformists. 
It was in these Parliamentary proceedings that the Chancellor 
describes the Covenanters as **a newe sect sprung from ye 
dunghill, whose idol is that accursed paper of ye Covenant." 
And it is the persecution about this time to which Wordsworth 
probably especially refers. The story of Margaret Wilson is 
perhaps that best known to modem readers — how 

** Within the sea, tied to a stake, 
She suffered for Christ Jesus* sake." 

Wodrow, in his Sufferings of the Church of Scotland (171 5), 
remarks : ** The multitude of murders in cold blood and other 
cruelties committed this year is the occasion why I want the 
exact dates of several of them." The persecution finally ceased 
in 1689. Scott, in Old Mortality^ gives a lively picture of the 
sufferings of the Covenanters. 

178 Straggling; i.e. * stray.' Volume^ Lat. volumen ; volvo, 
to roll. Books in early times were in the form of rolls. 

1 79 Thai left half told, A reminiscence of Milton. 

" Or call up him who left half told 
The story of Cambuscan bold.". 

II PenserosOy 1. 109. 

To what English poet does Milton refer ? Name any books 
to which Wordsworth's description might apply. 

180 Romance. Fr. roman; old Fr. romans\ low Lat. Ro- 
manciumy adverb Romanice in the manner of Rome. An old 
warlike tale, such as Roman History could furnish. So any 
adventurous story of love or war. 

Fiend. Properly the present Part, of the A. S. fiany to hate, 
and etymologically the same word as foe. 

186 Where fear sate thusj &c. " Perfect love casteth out 

A cherished visitant. Cf. 1. 133, note. 

187 fVas 7vanting yet; i.e. *was still lacking.* Want is 
connected with wane, wan. 

The pure delight of lave ; i.e. the delight given by a know- 
ledge of and sympathy wth the love of God shown in nature. 
The poet, from the fulness of his own emotional nature, makes 
the laws of life by which the earth is renewed continually, and 


those beautiful harmonies which are really the reflex of our own 
human hearts, to be a conscious stirring love in the external 
world itself. It is owing to this feeling that Wordsworth has 
been accused of 'Pantheism,* of the meaning of which the 
following lines of Coleridge should give a sufficient explanation : 
'' And what if all of animated nature 
Be but organic harps diversely framed, 
That tremble into thought, as o'er them sweeps 
Plastic and vast one intellectual breeze. 
At once the soul of each and God of all ?*' 
Wordsworth, however, never accepted any such doctrine; and 
any passages of his which seem to support it have their true 
origin, not in philosophic thought, but in imaginative feeling 
akin to " Pathetic Fallacy." Cf 1. i6i, note. 

1 88 The breathing air^ &c. This and the following line 
serve to expand the meaning of the **pure delight of love" as 
explained in the preceding note. They are well summed up in 
a line of On a Picture of Feele Castle, 

" Or merely silent Nature's breathing life." 
Cf. ** And 'tis my faith that every flower 
Enjoys the air it breathes. " 

— Lines in Early Spring. 
" With gentle hand 
Touch ; for there is a spirit in the woods." 

— Nutting. 
And again, earlier in the same poem : 

"The shady nook 
Of hazels, and the green and mossy bower, 
Deformed and sullied, patiently gave up 
Their quiet being." 
It would be easy to multiply passages showing how close was 
the connection in Wordsworth's mind between animate and 
inanimate objects, between God and nature. It underlies the 
great majority of his nobler poems. 

Keats, Shelley, and R. Browning afford many instances of a 
similar passionate poetic feeling. 

191 Power \s emphatic, and opposed to *Love.' — 1. 194. 
195 By whatever means; i.e. even by inspiring fear. 
200 Bathe the world in light. To * bathe in light ' has been a 
favourite expression with modern poets. 
e.g. *^ Auf dat/ef Schiiler, unverdrossen 
Die ird'she Brust im Morgen-roth. 
** Up Acolyte, and unwearied bathe thine earthly breast 

In the morning red." — Goethe, Faust^ sc. ii. 
** And washed by the morning water gold, 
Florence lay out on the mountain side." 

— R. Browning. 


This singularly beautiful metaphor may have had its origin, 
consciously or unconsciously, in the * myth * which occurs in the 
Phsedo of Plato, where air is represented as the sea of other 
beings who breathe a subtler air. 

201 The solid frame of earth. 

Cf. "Nature's \2&\.framey the web of human things, 
Birth, and the grave." — Shelley. 
* * This goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory. ' ' 

— Shakespeare, Hamlet^ ii. 2. 

This and the following line give an instance of the figure of 
speech called Chiasmus (from the Greek letter X represienting a 
cross or inverse order), the two like terms being placed together. 

e,g. ** Stulti erat sperare, suadere impudentis." 

— Cic, Fhil. ii. 10, 23. 
203 Touched; i.e. with light. 

205 Sound needed none. ' Needed ' is impersonal = * there 

Cf. ** Rose-cheeked Laura come. 

Sing thou smoothly with thy beauty's 

Silent music, either other 

Sweetly gracing." — T. Campion (1602). 

206 Nor any voice of joy. * Voice * is emphatic. Nature's 
language, though plain, is inarticulate ; nay, she * speaks ' plainer 
than she could in words her ' unutterable ' lessons of love. 

" Gleams like the flashing of a shield ; the earth 
And common face of Nature spake to him 
Rememberable things." 

209 Sensation, soul, and form. Sensation refers to such 
pleasures as are given by soft winds and rustling leaves, and 
scent of flowers ; form, to the beautiful shape of mountain or 
of cloud ; soul has a less obvious meaning. It appears to be 
synonymons with what Professor Shairp has aptly called by a 
similar phrase the "heart of nature," and which he thus ex- 
plains : — 

"Every scene in Nature has in it a power of awakening in 
every beholder of sensibility an impression peculiar to itself 
such as no other scene; can exactly call up. This may be called 
the * heart * or * character ' of that scene. It is analogous to the 
particular impression produced on us by the presence of each 
individual man. Now the aggregate of the impressions pro- 
duced by many scenes in nature, or rather the power in nature 
on a large scale of producing such impressions on us, I have 
called the * heart ' of Nature. The test of what is the real 
heart of any scene is to be ascertained by the experience of 
what the largest number of men of the truest poetic sensibility 
feel in the presence of that scene." 


2 ID Melted into him. As the constituents of brass (copper 
and zinc) are no longer distinguishable in the compound. 

211 Access; i.e. accession. Both words come through the 
Fr. acchy accession ; from the Lat. ad cedo, to go. So access in 
its original meaning = approach, as commonly now used. Then 
from * approaching one thing to another' came the idea of 
'addition,' 'increase,' to which meaning the form 'accession' is 
usually confined. We have, however, * accession ' used for 
'access' in the expression "accession to the throne," and a 
converse use of access for accession in the present passage, for 
which compare — 

" I from the influence of thy looks receive 
Access in every virtue ; in thy sight 
More wise, more watchful, stronger." 

— Milton, P, 2., bk. ix. 309. 

213 Feeling was so intense as to leave no room for thought. 

216 Offices of prayer and praise. Office is here used in the 
ecclesiastical sense. " The offices " are strictly eight in number, 
comprising the forms of 'Communion,' 'Public and Private 
Baptism,' 'Visitation of the Sick,' 'Communion of the Sick,* 
'Matrimony,' 'The Churching of Women,' and 'Burial of the 
Dead.' Thence the word is applied more generally to any form 
of worship or 'service.' 'Office,' Lat. officium, 'duty,' sig- 
nified those 'duties' owed by the Christian Church to her 

,217 His mind was a tkanksgimn^, &c. His state of feeling 
was in itself a more perfect thanksgiving than any form of words ; 
i.e. His whole mind was what it is but the aim of less perfect 
* thanksgiving ' to express. 

221 Possessed ; i.e. not as in Bible story by a devil of impurity 
and darkness, but bv a pure spirit of light and beauty. 

225 Mystery. Gk. jj.var'^pioy from fidu) to shut the lips or 
eyes, a religious secret ; in the N.T. sense of the word a mystery 
which has been revealed, "Behold, I shew you a mystery." 
What were 'mystery plays* of the middle ages? 

226 Feet Ais faith. Cf. Rom. i. 20. "For t'^e invis Me 
things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen 
by the things that are made.'* But can you distinguish St. Paul's 
and Wordsworth's point of view? **that absolute certitude 
which we are able to possess, whether as to the truths of a 
natural Theology or as to the fact of a Revelation, is the result 
of an cLSsemblage of concurring and converging probabilites 
[" Probability is the guide of life," Butler], and that, both ac- 
cording to the constitution of the human mind and the will of its 
maker ; certitude is a habit of mind, certainty a quality of pro- 
positions : probabilites which do not reach to logical certainty 
may create a mental certitude. To have such certitude may be 


a plain duty, and there are probabilities snfficient to create cer* 
titude," — Newman's Apology, p. 80. 

227 /Responsive to the writing ; i.e. 'answering to, or in accord- 
ance with, the written promise.' 

228 Revdmng life ; i.e. the manifold life of earth which never 
dies, but ever changes. 

230 iVas not. * Did not exist. ' 

231 His spirit shaped her prospects. 'Prospects* here in the 
literal sense of * looking forwards.* * His spirit formed definite 
conceptions of her future.' 

232 A^or did he bdieve, he saw. '"Eerrc 5^ Tltms iKtri^ofiiycnf 
inrdaraais irpayfA&Tav, ^XeTxos ou p\eiro/i4Fwv.^ — Heb. xi. 1 4 
Translated in the E.V., "Now faith is the substance of things 
hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. " 

236 Lowly. This gives an antithesis to the *low* of the two 
preceding lines. 'Lowliness,* as a virtue distinct from mere 

* modesty,' is an exclusively Christian conception, roiretyo^/xxn/jn; 
is the N.T. word for * humility,' but raireti^rTJ and ror6u»6j bear 
no nearer meaning in classical Greek than that of 'meanness.* 

* Humilis ' is similarly always used in a bad sense. 

Meek. A. S. melc-an, Lat. mulc-ere. For the dropping out 
of the liquid /. Cf. the pronunciation of 'yolk,' * half.' There 
was formerly a verb in use. 

"For he that highith himsilf schall be mekid." 

— Wicliffe's Version. 

237 Ecstasies. Gk. ^ir<rrd<rts; lit. a 'standing out' of oneself. 
The original meaning was 'madness.' Cf the expression, *to 
be beside oneself. * 

239 U^isdoniy which works through patience. Wisdom which 
can work — i.e. have issue in practical good, by patience alone. 
Cf. Buffon's famous saying:, Le genie c^est la patience. 

242 Self-questioned, &c. Doubting his own judgment rather 
than God's goodness when he could not reconcile 3ie workings 
of Nature with his own conceptions of good. 

"God is His own interpreter, 

And He will make it plain." — CowPER. 
Questioned = cross-examined as a criminal ; so * self-ques- 
tioned, ' = self-doubting. 

243 Superstitious eye of Love. Fervent love trusts upon as 
slight apparent grounds as superstition. 

245 Duly. As fitting opportunities occurred. 
Overplus. A similar tautology occurs in 'surplus,' 'over and 

247 Tripled his desires. Not a very accurate expression. A 
desire for a thin-^^ is itself its temptation. Tempt must be taken 
here as equivalent to * excite. ' • 

248 While at the stall he read. In this way Johnson, Charles 


Lamb, Dickens, and many other famous literary men, picked up 
knowledge in their early days when struggling with poverty. 
Compare the description of Leonard Fairfield in Lord Lytton's 
My Novel. 

249 That mighty orb of song, 

Cf. "Thy soul was like a star, and dwelt apart." 

— Sonnet to Milton, 
Milton's death preceded Wordsworth's birth by nearly a cen- 
tury. The former poet died in 1674, at the age of 66. Besides 
the Paradise Lost, and Paradise Regained, our great * English 
Epic,' may be mentioned as Milton's longer and best-known 
poems, Samson Agonistes, Comus, Ode to the Nativity, V Allegro, 
and Jl Penseroso, and Lycidas, Qi. Selections, p. 31. 

250 Lore. A. S. Iceran, Germ, lehren. There is a verb 
* to lere,' meaning to teach, found as late as Spenser. We have, 
in the Vision of Piers Ploughman, 

" Bote as his lorsman lereth hym. 
He by leveth and troweth. — p. 236. 
Lore = Teaching. 

"But Cristes lore and His Apostles twelve 
He taught, and fierst he followed it himselve." 

—Chaucer, Prol. 527. 
And so *what is taught,' and so * learning.' Conversely, *to 
learn,' is still used for *to teach' in many parts of England. 
Cf. Ps. cxix. — " O learn me true understanding," &c 

251 The annual savings. In apposition to 4ore,' which is 
loosely put for the books which contained it. 

253 Purer elements. In a similar sense, * Pure ' mathematics 
are distinguished from 'mixed,' as assuming no concrete mechani- 
cal law, but depending solely on abstractions of number and 
modes of space. 

254 Charm severe. A pleasure which yet needs for its attain- 
ment strenuous exertion. A sort of * Oxymoron ' like * insaniens 
sapientia.' Cf. 1. 570, and note. 

255 Nature; i.e. external Nature. 

258 Deceived. Cf. *To ivile away an idle hour.' 'Studio 
fallente laborem.' — Horace, Sett. II. 2, 12. 

259 Listless. List is the same word as lust ; Germ, lust, 
•desire,' 'pleasure;' lust-haus, 'pleasure-house.' List, as 
above, must be distinguished from list, a boundary [Fr. lice, 
lisse ; Low Lat. lichia, an inclosure connected with licium, a 
'girdle," border']; ^.^. "The Lists." 

"The ocean overpeering of his list." 

— Shakespeare, Hamlet, v. 5. 
Mention any other ' list. ' 

261 Pensive. * Thoughtful ; ' Lat. pendere, to weigh. The 
same metaphor occurs in * to ponder,' from pondus, a weight. 


26a Thus daily thirsting, &c. His efforts in his lonely life to 
find something that would give scope to the .activity of his in- 
tellect and emotions were ill-directed through ignorance, and in 
their daily renewal and daily renewed failure produced a kind of 
mental thirst. 

265 A wasting power, A power tending to make his mind 

267 Her hues. 

Her forms, and with the spirit of her fortns. Cf. note 
on 1. 209. 

269 The nakedness ; i.e. the merely abstract nature. 
Austere, Because truth, such as is conveyed by geometry or 

arithmetic, appeals solely to the rational and not to the emotional 
nature of men. 

270 Rudiments, Lat. rudimentum {rudis), rough, raw; so 
simple or elementary things. 

273 His triangles — they were the stars of heaven. This ex- 
pression is not accurate. What is meant is, of course, that he 
formed triangles by drawing imaginary lines from each of three 
stars to the others ; the stars thus forming the angular points of 
a triangle. 

273 The silent stars. 

Cf. " For I would walk alone 

under the quiet stars." — Prelude. 
The stars are naturally connected with silence from their only 
being visible at night, when earth is quiet. Wordsworth brings 
out this feeling still more forcibly in his poem beginning, ** I^oud 
is the vale," in the lines, '* Yon star upon the mountam top 

Is listening quietly." 

274 To measure the altitude. How? 

Tall crag. The epithet is characteristic of Wordsworth. 
Cf. ** The tall rock, 

The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood." 

— Ode on the Banks of the Wye. 

276 Familiar with forgotten years, &c. As we talk of one 
who has * known * happier days, so the poet thinks of this 
peak as having known, face to face, as it were, years which have 
passed away beyond all human memory and record. 

277 Visionary sides. Its sides, which, water-worn, scarred, 
and contorted, present a former time, as in a half-rememberecl 

279 The path of fire. Explain. What is meant by Vulcanists? 

280 And thus before his eighteenth year was told. The paral- 
lelism of this shorter description of the growth of a poetic mind, 
and Wordsworth's account in the Prelude of his own mental 
education, is too close and striking to be conveyed by quotation 
of single passages. The early part of the Wanderer can hardly, 


in fact, be adequately understood unless the first three books of 
the Prelude^ of which it is a summary, have been carefully read, 
282 Still ; i,e, * constantly.' Cf. French, toujours, 
285 The first virgin passion, 

" The sounding cataract, 
Haunted me like ^^passion^ — The Banks of the Wye* 
290 The sounds that live in darkness, 

**And I would stand 
If the night blackened with a' coming storm 
Beneath some rock, listening to notes that are 
The ghostly, language of the ancient earth, 
Or make their dim abode in distant winds." — Prdude, 
292 From the stillness of abstracted thought 

He asked repose. Not * repose from,' in the sense of 
•freedom from,' but by engaging in abstract thought which is 
free from the gusts of passion, and should bring stillness and 
rest, he tried and tried in vain to win a respite from ** the turbu- 
lence of his own mind." 

2^6 .Clefts, The same word as cliffy which is properly the 
past participle of A.S. cleofan^ to split. Drayton has "Dover's 
neighbouring cleeves." The form clifted or clefted is properly 
redundant, although occasionally found. 

297 A cloud of mist, that smitten by the sun 
Varies its rainbow hues, 
Cf. ** It is not noon — the sunbow's rays still arch 
The torrent with the many hues of heaven." 

— Byron, Manfred, Act ii. sc. ii. 1. i. 

302 In dreams, &c. Distinguish carefully the three elements 
of his education. 

303 Midch wanting. 'Wanting' agrees with *he,' the subject 
of reared. The construction of the whole sentence is very irre- 
gular. * Every moral feeling, strengthened and braced,' is an 
absolute sentence, taking the place of a participial clause, co- 
ordinate with * wanting,* * gaining,' in the preceding lines. The 
gerundives, *by breathing and drinking,' are strictly dependent 
on * gaining,' but in meaning qualify also the intervening clause. 

305 Brac&i. Fr. bras.; Lat. brachium, *To brace* thus 
literally means to 'embrace,* to clasp with the arms; so to 
bind, so to strengthen by binding. 

306 The keen, the wholesome, air of poverty ; i.e, 'wholesome 
though keen.* 

307 Wdl of homely life. The well, the most permanent ac- 
cessory of a human dwelling, and most intimately connected 
with daily life, is naturally chosen as a type of home. This 
image is a forecast of line 484 : 

** Beside yon spring I stood. 
And eyed its waters till we seemed to feel 


One sadfifss, thejr and L For them a bcmd 
Of brotherhood is broken," &c 
308 Past liberty and tried restraints. Free interoooTse with 
Natnrey and the abieadj known restraints imposed by poreity 
and want of scope for his mental powers. Of the restraint of 
necessary attention to uncongenial things he had as yet no 

311 No unworthy / £,<& an honooiable maintenance. 
313 Wandering thoughts were then The roring imagination 
A misery to him. and fanciful chains of 

thought which before had given him his highest pleasures were 
now, on the other hand, a source of misery, as they made the 
struggle to give all his attention to his scholars so painful as to 
be hopeless. 

316 TTuU stem yet kindly spirit ; i,e. restlessness. 

317 Naked rocks. The epithets 'naked* and 'rocks' imply 
the aspect they would present to the restless mind. 

318 Free-bom Swiss. Savoy, a small mountain district south 
of Lake Geneva, and to the west of Switzerland. Freedom is 
akin to restlessness ; and since the revolt of the Swiss Cantons 
against the Austrians in 1307, the land of William Tell and 
Arnold Winkelried has alwa3rs been associated with freedom. 

323 Irksome. This word was formerly used passively as well 
as actively. So 

" Irksome of life and too long lingering night." 

— Spenser, Faery Queene, I. il 6. 
It comes from the A. S. earg, dull, torpid. To irk is to make 
dull, to tire. 

" Or gif sche errit or irkit by the way," 
is Douglas' translation of Virgil's 

** Erravitne via, sen lassa resedit." 
Of *irk' it has been said: "This word, though not yet for- 
gotten, has ceased to be current in common use, and seems to 
have been preserved in memory, chiefly by being known at 
school as the translation of ioedet." — N are's Glossary. 

324 A Vagrant Merchant. What is the construction? 
Merchant, Fr. marchand. Lat. mercari. The word is said to 
have been originally Phcenician (Vossius), which would accord 
well with the known national character of that great naval 

326 Travellers. (Fr. travailler.) •Wa5rfarer' is only the 
secondary meaning of the word, although the original sense of 
travailj toil, pain, distress, is now nearly lost. We still have, 
**Come unto me, all that travail and are heavy laden, and I 
will refresh you." — Matt. xi. 28. 

330 Sequestration, Lat. sequester^ 'an arbitrator;' so 'to 
sequestrate* became 'to set aside for arbitration; so 'to set 


aside* became the prominent meaning ; and hence we have the 
two late meanings of sequestration, (i) Removal to a place 
apart, or retired ; so retirement ; and (2) the separation of pro- 
perty from its normal possessor and its removal into the hands 
of the Crown. We may remember in the Antiquary the use- 
fulness and wandering life of the beggar Edie Ochiltree, and 
the respect with which he was treated. 

331 Pedlar. The etymology of this word is uncertain. Fr. 
pied is proposed, and pedlars have certainly always journeyed 
on foot. But there is a Suffolk provincial word /«/, meaning 
* basket ;' and Fr. petit is supported on the ground that a pedlar 
(or Peddar, as the Scotch have it) deals in * petty' wares. 
Pedlar's French was an old term for thieves' slang. Vide 
NaRe's Glossary. 

332 Fancies. Lat. fantasia. Gr. fpavrdaia, from the root 
<f>ap ; seen also in (fxdvtay meaning * appearance. ' * To fancy ' 
thus = ' to picture,' so * to picture what one wishes ;' hence the 
sense of 'wishing,' 'preferring.' Cf. the rustic phrase 'fancy- 
man' for lover. Fancy is used both in an abstract and concrete 
sense; i.e. we talk of 'Fancy;' and 'A fancy,' and is very in- 
determinate in meaning. The distinction between Fancy and 
Imagination is discussed at some length in Wordsworth Preface 
to the edition of 1815. 

341 Much did he see of men. A reminiscence of Homer, 
Od. i. 3. 

TcoiCKQ>v 5' AvOpdjirwv IScp Aarea Kal vbov ^v<a. 
"At the risk of giving a shock to the prejudices of artificial 
society, I have ever been ready to pay homage to the aristocracy 
of Nature, under a conviction that vigorous human-heartedness 
is the constituent principle of true taste." — Author^ s note. 

The following is extracted from a passage of Heron's your>iey 
in Scotland^ quoted in the same note : " We leani from Caesar 
and other Roman writers that the travelling merchants who 
frequented Gaul and other barbarous countries were ever the 
first to make the inhabitants fully acquainted with the Roman 
modes of life. In North America travelling merchants from 
the settlements have done, and continue to do, much more to- 
wards civilising the Indian natives than all the missionaries, 

Papist or Protestant, ever sent among them As they 

wander each alone through thinly-inhabited districts, they form 

habits of reflection and sublime contemplation A young 

man going from any part of Scotland to England of purpose to 
carry the pack was considered as going to lead the life and 
acquire the fortune of a gentleman. '' 

346 Exist more simple in their elements. The belief in the 
degrading moral effect of what is called ' civilisation,' was a 
primary article of Wordsworth's creed. Such works as the 


Contrat Social of Jean Jacques Rousseau, had done mudi to 
make such views prevalent before Wordsworth's time. " Humble 
and rustic life was generally chosen, because in that condition 
the essential passions of the heart Bnd a better soil in which they 
can attain their maturity, are less under restraint, and speak a 
pi liner and more emphatic language ; because in that condition 
of life our elementary feelings co-exist in a state of greater sim- 
plicity, and consequently may be more accurately contemplated, 
and more forcibly communicated." — Author's Preface to the 
Lyrical Ballads, 1793. 

348 Enthusiast. Gk. afOownd^a (d^cot). Inspired by the 

351 Thriven. So striven. En is the old plural termination 
of the present and perfect tenses, as well as of the infinitive 
mood and participle. It is almost universal in Chaucer; but 
soon became weakened into ^, and finally was only represented 
by an e mute. 

352 Amid the bounties of the year. Bounty, Fr. bonte^ 
'goodness.* Liberality having alwajrs been in the popular 
opinion the best proof of goodness. 

355 A just ^uipoise of lave. His love was * evenly balanced ;* 
he was not led to the unhappiness or narrowness of heart which 
result from concentration of the affections on one or few objects. 

Just, ue, right and fitting. Just is also used in the sense of 
'exact ;' and this latter meaning combines with the former in 
the present passage. 

358 Partial bondage. * Partial * is emphatic, although there 
is the further notion that affections and sympathies drawn in only 
one direction make themselves felt as an oppressive slavery. 

359 Piteous Revolutions. Piteous, i.e. pitiable. The word is 
also used for pitying — 

"She was so charitable and so pilous. 
She wolde weepe if that she saw a mous 
Caught in a trappe, if it were ded or bledde." 

— Chaucer, Prol. 
In using the word 'revolution,' Wordsworth perhaps had in 
mind the French Revolution, in which he had been so deeply 
interested, and so bitterly disappointed. 

361 Unoccupied. This recalls the strict sense of the Latin 
occupare, i.e. 'to anticipate in seizing.' 

362 And by Nature tuned. "You would sound me from 

my lowest note to the top of my compass Call me what 

instrument you will, though you can fret me you cannot play 
upon me." — Shakespeare, Hamlet, iii. 2. 

366 In himself happy, &c. He was free, not only from 
internal, but from external sources of unhappiness. 

369 That made him turn aside frotn wretchedness. He had 


no misery such as to make the woes of others too painful by 
reminding him of his own. 

373 In the wisdom of our daily life. The 0p6i^<rtj of 
Aristotle : practical wisdom as opposed to speculative. 

377 The history of many families. For such history, com- 
pare The Churchyard among the Mountains^ and an. earlier 
poem, The Brothers. 

379 Such misrule^ &c. 

. . . . " For them alone did seethe 
A thousand men in troubles wide and dark ; 
Half ignorant they turned an easy wheel, 
. That set sharp racks at work to pinch and peel." 

— Keats, Isabella, xv. 

386 Calling = * profession,' from bearing the title or * calling' 
of a trade. Cf. vocation ; Lat. vocatio, vocare, to call. The 
meaning of * profession * may be also partly obtained from the 
ecclesiastical use of "called to any holy function," borrowed 
from the New Testament account of the * calling' of the 
apostles. Several words are similarly borrowed from Scripture ; 
e.g. Talent, Simony. 

390 Revisiting the scenes. The strength of the association, 
connecting places with thoughts and feelings experienced in 
them, is seen in the imagined extension of the feeling alluded 
to in the text, even beyond the grave. 

399 The strong hand of her purity. * Puritanism ' was not 
at first a term of reproach, but meant purity of doctrine. 
. 4D0 Unrelenting eye ; i.e. unremitting. (Lat. lentus^ pliant.) 

401 In his riper age. Cf. 1. 74. 

406 In docile childhood. Cf. 1. 81. 

407 He had imbibed. Cf. 1. 69. 

408 Was melted all envoy. Any sternness or harshness natural 
to Puritanism had been dispelled by his manner of life ; just as 
dross, when molten in the furnace, separates itself from the pure 

410 Self-taught y as of a dreamer in the tvoods. A similar idea 
is expanded in a small poem, beginning — 

"Three years she grew in sun and shower." — Q. V. 
411 To the model. To; i.e. in accordance with or after the 

413 With awe. * Reason not unrestrained by awe.' 
415 /^ man of kindlier nature. Kindly , adj. of kind (kin-ned), 
'related by blood,' and so * friendly disposed.' For the first, 
apart from the derived meaning, Trench, in his G/ossafy, quotes 
from Sir T. More on Richard III, "that he thought without 
delay to rid them ... As though the killing of his kinsmen 
could amend his cause, and make him a kindly king." This 
gives additional force to Hamlet's speech : 


" A little more than im, and less than kind" (kinned). 
416 Vexed not him. Him is emphatic from its position in 
the sentence. 

418 Of garrulous age. " Ignoscetis aotem ; nam et studio 
msticamm rerum provectns sum et senectas est natura loqnacior 
ne ab omnibus cam vitiis vindicare videar." — Cii: tU Sauct^ xvL 
422 Nervous ivas his gait. Gait (A- S. gan, to go; seen in 
the Scotch, *^ gang'')^ here = the motion of going ; also = a 
way, spelt gate. Cf. the Scotch expression, ** E en gang your ain 
gate." Explain the two seemingly contradictory meanings of 
'nervous.' Nervous, here =* vigorous.' — 
425 His whole figure breathed intelligence. 
Cf. " All things there 

Breathed immortality." — 1. 227. 
427 Into a narrower circle of deep red. 

** Full five and thirty years he lived, 

A running huntsman merry. 

And still the centre of his cheek 

Is red as a ripe cherry." — Simon Lee. 

429 Had meanings which it brought, &c. ; iji. in his eyes 
could still be read the strong feelings of early years. 

430 Which, like a Being, &c. * Which,' i.e. *the years of 
youth ; ' or the antecedent may be * meanings. ' The former 
interpretation is more grammatically correct ; the latter suits 
better with 'knowledge in the following line. Cf. Wordsworth's 
JJnes to the Rainbow — 

" The child is father of the man ; 
And oh that all my days might be 
Bound each to each by natural piety." 
435 Appendage. \jaX, ad pend-ere, to hang. The word has 
somewhat of a grotesque effect Wordsworth was singularly 
deficient in a sense of humour. 

437 Reposed his limbs. The transitive and probably original 
use of the verb. The intransitive use natiually followed from 
the omission of the object of the reflexive. Cf. * retire,* * with- 
draw.' *to move' Intrans., from the Lat *^ se movere^ trans., &c. 

438 Supine. Lat. supinus. 'Extended face upwards;* op- 
posed to * prone.' Lat. pronus. * Extended face downwards.' 

441 Dappling his face. Vide 1. 5. 

442 Can you pomt out any defect in the English of this 

444 Hailed him. *Hail' is seen in * heal -th ' = safety, well- 
being. Cf. Lat. salve. So from being the usual greeting it 
came to be applied to the act of greeting ; so of calling and 
speaking, as in * hailing* a ship. 

452 That aspiring shrub. Not a happy expression. Point 
out its defects. 


Fence. There wa> a verb * to fend;* *to guard;' obsolete Lat 

456 Long lank slips ; i.e. unpruned. 
462 SJirouded. Shroud was used generally of clothes. 
** I shope me in shroudes as I a shepe were." 

— Piers Ploughman^ 1. 2. 
And so of any covering. 

" Run to your shrouds within these brakes and trees." 

— Milton, Comus, 1. 147. 
IVillauf 'flowers. Not the flower of the willow commonly 
called 'palm,' but the willow herb, or epilobium^ which grows 
near water. 

Plumy. Feathery. Lat. pluma, a feather. 
472 PeculUir nook of earth. Peculiar. LaL peculiaris, 
peculium, a slave's savings. Cf. note on 1. 119. 

474 Even of the good is no memorial left. 

Cf. "The evil that men do lives after them ; 

The good is oft interred with their bones." 

— Shakespeare, Jul. Casar, iii. 2. 

475 Elegies. (XeyoSf a lament. As laments were frequently 
expressed in a particular metre, iXeyeiov became synonymous 
with a couplet formed of an hexameter and pentameter line, 
known as the elegiac metre. 

477 They call upon the hills and streams to mourn. See note 
on 1. 161. 

478 Nor idly. Idly ; i.e. foolishly. 

** Queen. Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue. 
Ham. Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue." 

— Shakespeare, Hamlet^ Act iii. sc. iv. 

480 The strong creative power. Cf. 1. 158. 

482 Of kindred birth ; i.e. the feeling of sympathy with in- 
animate things, such as that excited by the cottage spring, is 
merely a less violent form of the impulse that led Prometheus 
and Electra to make their passionate appeals to 'hills and 
streams,' and to the 'senseless rocks.' 

486, sq. For thetn a bond of brotherhood is broken. Note the 
expressive force of the alliteration. 

490 In mortal stillness ; i.e. the waters were motionless, as 
are the dead. The word mortal is naturally suggested by the 
' sleep ' of the preceding line, for sleep and death are near akin. 

492 Espied. French, espier. *Spy' is a shortened form of 
'espy,' as 'squire* of 'esquire.* 

500 Cf. the Greek proverb, "Whom the gods love die young." 

501 Whose hearts are dry as summer dust. 
" But or ever a prayer had gushed, 

A wicked whisper came, and made 

My heart as dry as dust." — Coleridge, Ancient Mar, 



502 Bum to the sockeL 

" I still had bopes my latest hours to crown. 

Amidst these fanmUe bowers to lay me down, 
> To hnsband out life's taper to the dose." 

— Goldsmith, Daerted Village. 

503 Margaret. Margaifta {Aaftyapinp \Wiifs) a pearl ; through 
the French Margaerite, which means both a pearl and a daisy. 

511, sq. Stock of virtues bhomed. Stock in the sense of 
'store' is metaphorically derived from stock, or trunk of a 
tree, whence the branches ^ring. It is the primary meaning 
which is most prominent in the present passage, as is seen by 
the continuance of the metaphor in 'bloomed.' 

513 Steady, An adjective formed from steady meaning placir 
or standing. The original meaning clearly appears in * in-stead 
of* 'home-stead,' &c. 

514 Excess of love. ' Excess ' is almost always used in a bad 
sense ; but such a use is entirely arbitrary, and is here set aside. 
The adjectival form of the same word is not so used. We have 
" Ae exceeding ^gK2X love of our Master." — Communion Service. 

515 Rather. The comparative ofratke, early. 

" Bring the ratAe primrose that forsaken dies." 

— ^Milton, Lyddas, 1. 142. 
517 7d/i«/Vr = temperament, disposition. 
524 Seated at his loom. Loom, originally of anything ap- 
pended (limb, heir-loom), so appurtenance, gear, instrument of 
any sort, latterly specialized to a weaving machine. The hand- 
loom is still common in parts of England and Scotland, although 
it is being gradually superseded by mills. 

527 Ere. An Anglo-Saxon word meaning 'before.* It is 
commonly prefixed to words of time, as ere long^ ere no7o, and is 
seen in its superlative erst, which has dropped out of use, except 
in poetry ; earfy is from the same root. 
529 Busy spade, 

Cf. " The armourers accomplishing the knights, 
With ^f^ -hammers closing rivets up. 
— Shakespeajle, Henry V, Act. iv. Chorus 1. 12. 
Fly (Fr. plier), lit. to bend or turn, so to keep moving or at 
work [* play * has a similarly derived meaning]. The connection 
of the two meanings may be seen in — 

*• During which time her gentle witte sheplyes. 
To teach them truth.** 

— Spenser, Faerie Queene, bk. i. c. 6. 

t37 Were left. The season may be said to have passed by 
left behind but half the usual harvest ; ue, the metaphor is 
explained by the personification of the season. 

539 Flague of war. Lit. a blow (TX1771J plaga). 

540 Stricken, The weak form of the past participle passive 


— so, smitten, laden, taken. Many verbs had similar forms, which 
are now obsolete, as foughten. 

542 /m>A/ = burden ; formerly sometimes written 'fraught.' 
** Swell, bosom, with thy fraught." — Othello, Act iii. sc. 3. 

544 Sank down as in a dream ; ue. they felt as helpless and 
as strange as if suffering in a dream. 

546 And their place knew them not, 

** And the place thereof shall know it no more." — Ps, ciii. 16. 

550 Abridged, Lat. abbreviare; Fr. abriger. Scan this line. 

552 Perilous, Parlous and perlous are old forms. 

Fever, Lat. febris. For the change of br to z/, cf. liberare, 
deliver. Scan this line. 

555 Crippling age. To cripple ; lit. * to cause to creep.* 

558 Degree, Grade is similar, both in etymology and meta- 
phorical meaning. Lat. gradus, a step. 

559 Shoals, Shoal, or scull r= a herd. 

**What they met, 
Solid or slimy, as in raging «^ea 
Tossed up and down, together crowded, drove 
From each side shoaling toward the mouth of hell. " 

— Milton, Paradise Lost, x. 
We use the expression, school {shoal) of whales ; which is, of 
course, quite distinct from school, Lat. schola; Gr. <rxo\i>; 
the similar spelling being due to the similar pronunciation of the 
two words. Shoal (herd) must also be distinguished from shoal, 
meaning shallow or shelf; with which words shoal, in the latter 
sense, is connected. 

562 Happier far. What is the construction ? 
567 Filled with plenty. Plenty ; Lat. plenus. To fill with plenty 
is strictly tautological. Plenty is used for the things of which it 
is properly a predicate. Cf. * means ' for * money." 

569 Snatch. Cf. the use of ccttch for a song or tune generally. 

570 TTtat had no mirth in them. This is an instance of the 
figure of speech called Oxymoron (sharp-blunt), which is fre- 
quent in the poetry of all times ; e,g. — 

K\v6vT€i oi/K ifKOvoy. — MsCH, Pr. v. 447. 
** Dead life, blind sight, poor mortal living ghost" 

— Shaks. Rich. III., Act iv. sc. iv. 1. 26. 
" And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true." 

— Tennyson, Elaine. 

571 Uncouth figures. Uncouth; couth is the past part, of a 
verb, meaning *to know;* Scotch, ken; English, con ; seen also 
\n cunning, canny, can, could. The original meaning of 'un- 
known,* or strange, is seen in — 

**Ther mayst thou see devysing of hemeys. 
So uncouth and so riche wrought and well.'* 

— Chaucer, Knight^s Tale, L 1630. 


But as the unknown is usually viewed with no friendly eye, un- 
couth easily came to mean * awkward,* ugly. 

572 Then not less idly, &c. ; i,e. Then in a restlessness as pur- 
poseless as that which led him to carving. 

575 Amusing, yet uneasy novelty. 'Amusing,* because the 
work satisfied his habitual industry even better for the greater 
attention required by its novelty ; 'uneasy,* because such work, 
by its strangeness, recalled his changed fortunes. It is only 
recently that * amuse * has had any meaning further than that of 
* distracting the attention.* Holland, in his translation of 
Livy, p. 223, has : ** Camillus set upon the Gauls when they 
were amused in receiving their gold." Divert, diversion, have 
had a similar specialized meaning of 'pleasant distraction.* 

576 IVhere he might. 'Might' here = 'could.* 'May' 
properly expresses moral, 'can,* physical possibility; but they 
are often interchanged. 

578 His good humour. ' Humour* is a word inherited from 
the medical science of former times. The human body was 
thought to contain four 'himiours.* Lat. humor, moisture, viz., 
blood, melancholy, choler, and phlegm, corresponding respec- 
tively to the lively, i;U)omy, irascible, and sluggish temperaments. 
Mental and physical health depended upon the coexistence of 
these humours in right proportions. Thus 'sanguine,' 'melan- 
choly,' 'choleric,' and 'phlegmatic' are still used as descriptive 
of character; while 'humour' became a general term for tem- 
perament, as in good or ill humour. A 'humourist' would 
naturally be used of one whom the prevalence of some particular 
humour rendered eccentric. 

579 Became a Tveight, &c. ; i.e. soon ceased to keep him cheer- 
ful, and made his despondency the more hard to bear. What is 
the antecedent to wliich ? 

580 Petted = * pettish, ' connected with the Lat. petulare, to 
seek again and again. Hence the two opposite meanings of to 
'fondle,'and to 'fret.' 

581 Sore temper; i.e. irritable disposition, easily affected by 
trifles, as a sore place is sensitive to the slighttsst touch. Shake- 
speare has the same metaphor in " Let the galled jade wince : 
our withers are unwrung. " — Hamlet, iii. 2. 

588 Rueful. ' Ruth-ful,* ' pitiful ;* so * ruth-less,* pitUess. 

592 Enormous. Lat. enormis, from the separative e and 
norma, a rule; so 'out of all rule,* 'immeasurable, 'monstrous.' 

593 Deepest noon. Cf. the Gk. expression ttpQpo^ ^oJd<f%. — 
Aristoph. Vesp. 216; Plato, Crito, 43 a. 

594 Repose and peace. ' Repose ' = rest after action. Lat. 
re pono^ to re- place. Peace seems to mean here absence of any- 
thing jarring or painful. 


599 Untoward. Cf. * fro- ward;* i.e. * from- ward.* [*Ward,' 
Germ, warts ; A.S. ward^ turned.] The metaphor involved in 
both words is that of a man turning away his face in perverse- 
ness and dislike from what he ought to regard. * Aversion,' 
Lat. ab vertere, implies the same image. *Why should we, by 
giving place to sorrow, however natural, thus turn our minds 
away from the wise lesson of peace and cheerfulness which 
nature sets before us?' 

605 Solemn. Lat. sollenisy sollus (Gk. SKoi), and chtnus. That 
which happens when the year is complete, so of annual religious 
rites so * solemn.* 

607 Easy cheeHulness ; i.e. natural, unforced. 

609 Simple. Lat. simplex ^ semel (Gk. a/ia), and plico ; *of 
one fold,' as opposed to * double,' du-plex, and complex; of two 
or several folds. Similarly we have the expressions, ** If thine 
eye be single" — single-hearted. " Dissemble with Xhoir double 

611 Trivial, Lat. trivialis. *Of' or *in the cross-roads;' 
so we say * common-place' (Gk. Tbiros). Cf. Fr. band forain. 
Triviumj tris-via, is a place where three roads meet ; so cross- 
roads generally. 

612 Tasteless. The Latin equivalent, * insipid,^ {insipidus ^ in 
sapio) is more common in this metaphorical sense. 

In my own despite; i.e. in despite of myself.. French en 
depit de. Despite = contempt. It seems doubtful, however, 
whether it is connected with despectus ; the evidence pointing 
rather to * spite,' *spit.' Notice the rar^ objective use of the 
possessive pronoun. 

614 Rehearsed. From the French reherser ; herse^ a harrow. 

615 Familiar power; i.e, natural, unrhetorical. 'Familiar' 
is perha|)s suggested by the * homely ' in the same line. 

616 Active countenance; i.e. his face showed by its quick 
* working ' the feelings brought up by the tale he told. | 

618 Attention now rda^ed. An absolute construction. 

62 1 The warmer sun ; i. e. the sunshine warmer than the shade. 

626 Wantonness. Wan is a negative affix in the Old English 
(cf. wanhope ^ despair) : wanton means unled, that is, un- 

628 Dalliance. Lingering about ; spending time either in 
harmless mirth or fond and idle amusement. Wanton playing 
with a thing. ** In her dalliaunce 

Lowly she is, discrete and wise," &c. — Chaucer. 
But the word is almost always used in a bad sense. 

630 Never marked by reason. In the contemplation of the suffer- 
ings of others there is always pleasure, although this pleasure 
may be more than counterbalanced by accompanying pains, 
such as those of pity, sympathy, or indignation. If this pleasure 


bears not the mark or stamp of reason, bat is merely enjoyed 
for its own sake, it becomes sentimentalism (in its modem and 
bad sense), and even cnielty. But when ennobled by reason, 
ue. when reason explains the nature and results of soffeiii^, 
and shows wherein it is beautiful and beneficial, the pleasure 
of the contemplation of suffering becomes the pleasure of 
tragedy, and tends to refine sympathy and affect for good future 

638 A Ale of silent sufferings hardly chUud in. hadily Jbrm, 
' Hsutily clothed in bodily form. ' Expands ' silent ;' Le. su£fering, 
which had to be borne in silence because it could find no ade- 
quate bodily expression, must needs be hard to tell again, for it 
was never fidly told by word or deed. 

640 IVkile thus it fared, Fared =^wcdL The same word 
appears infare-weU. (as opposed to well-^^ip*^), vny-farrr. 

641 Hapless. Hap = luck ; fortune good or bad. It is fre- 
quent in compoimds, such as ^^/-pen, ill->^, perA^/f. In 
hapless and its converse happy ^ as in 'fortune,' the meaning of 
good luck has predominated. 

646 Quick ^=^\vnsi!g. "The quick and the dead.'' Quick-'sitX. 
hedge, quick-Xvait. ; so 'lively,' * life-like,* 'active,' 

647 Lifted with light hand the latch. Notice the alliteration, 
which is not common in Wordsworth. 

651 / wist not what to do. * Wist,' A.S. witan^ to know ; 
appearing also in wisdom, wit. The present, ' I wis,' is found 
in Shakespeare and Spenser, but it is a corruption of the adverb 
gewis, iwis. The true present is I wot. 

The old-fashioned Bible word is not inaptly put into the 
religious pedlar's mouth. 

652 Poor wretch. * Wretch* is here in its proper sense with- 
out implication of contempt or criminality. In this word as in 
the Fr. ^ miserable,^ we see the popular assumption of the con- 
nection of misery and crime. 

655 Face of grief. A defining genitive, as a • ring of gold. * 
657 That seemed to cling upon me. A stronger expression of 
the not uncommon metaphor of * fixing ' or * fastening ' the eyes 
on a thing. 

Cf. "A look that's fastened to the ground." 

— Beaumont & Fletcher. 
659 A strange surprise, &c. Strange, not in their nature, 
but in their presence in a mind not accustomed to entertain 

66 1 Not two months gone. What is the construction ? * Gone **= 
•agone,' of which 'ago' is another abbreviated form. 
" Wommen can have such sorwe, 
Whan that here housbonds ben from hem a^." 

Chaucer, Khightes T. 1954. 


663 Wistfully seems to be connected with wis^ to know. 
{Vide 1. 651. Note.) rather than *wish.' * Wistly* also occurs 
in a similar sense. 

"And speaking it he wistly looked at me, 
As who should say, * I would thou wert the man.'" 

— Shakes. Rich. II. v. 4. [N are's Glossary. "l 
678 Gather heart. So we talk of * gathering ' or * collecting ' 
resolution, 'picking up' spirit ; a 'collected* manner. * Heart' 
for 'courage' is common in such phrases as 'losing heart,' 'his 
heart misgave him.' " Great-heart " was the name of Bunyan's 
well-known hero. 

687 Pile. (A.S. pU)\ through the Fr. pUa; from the Lat. 
pila^ a ball ; so a heap ; so, tropically, of a large building, &c. 
This word must be distinguished from (i) 'pile ;' A. Sax. pil^ 
'pole;* Lat. palus^ a stake, /i/«w, a spear; whence 'pile,' or 
pointed stake, as in the ' piles ' of a bridge. From this word 
also comes the Fr. pUe^ the punch used in stamping coins ; so 
the stamped side. Cf. The expression, "cross and pile." 
(2.) 'Pile,' Lat. pilus, Gk. ir^Xos, hair- wool, as in 'velvet pile.' 
693 /iwft^/ay/fl/A is strictly tautological. 'Path* is connected 
with the Lat. pes, ped-is^. Fr. pied, Gk. iroDs irb^ozy a foot, and 
means a footway. In Lincolnshire, ' path ' is called ' pad ;' and 
the same word appears in a fox's *pad,' and 'paddle.' 

697 Dale is not connected with dell, which is from the same 
root as ' delve.' 

701 Befall. The prefix ' be ' gives force to the application of 
a simple verb, as in 'betide,' 'bethink,' and sometimes adds a 
contemptuous meaning, as in 'bedaub,' ' bepraise.' It also turns 
a substantive into a verb, as 'befriend.' 

703 The trotting brooks. A quotation from Burns : — 
" The muse, na poet ever fand her 
Till by himself he learned to wander 
Adoun some trotting bum's meander, 

An' no think lang. 
Oh, sweet to stray, an' pensive ponder 
A heartfelt sang ! " 
705 That passed between ; i.e. between those moments when he 
was conscious of the companionship of wind, and brook, and 

708 The soft and bladed grass. 

Cf. " Decking with liquid pearl the bladed grass." 

Shakespeare, Mids. N. D.\. i. 

715 Notice the poetic force of * crowding.' The honeysuckle, 
though a single object, is said to 'crowd' the porch with its 
multitude of sprays. 

716 Weed, that which covers ihe ground ; the same ety- 
mplogically as 'weed,' 'garment.' Common in old writers, 


and stin existiiig in the phrase * widow's weeds,' preserved by 
the alliteration. 

717 Theydkm sUme-crcp. Sedum acre; but it is lardy more 
than two inches high. 

719 Blinding the Icwer panes. A window may be likened to 
the eye of a house through which light enters, and by which the 
external world is visible. Pane is the same word zs panel. 

722 Jts pride of neatness ; i.e. the neatness which used to be 
its pride. 

Thrift. Statice aTmerium. It is very hardy, and is sometimes 
used for borders. 

725 Surpassing beauty. Fr. sur-passer, to pass over. The 
preposition is seen in such words as 'sur-name,' 'surmount,' 
&c ^Lat super.) 

y26 Pains. *Pain' and 'trouble* have both passed from 
their original meaning of conscious labour to that of misery. 
French quotes — 

* ' Joseph a painful carpenter. " 

— Fuller, Holy fVar^ hk. v. c. 29. 

727 Wanting in the double sense of ' needing ' and ' being 

728 Cumbrous bindweed. The botanical name is convolvulus 
arvensis. Cumbrous is from 'cumulus.' Sir W. Scott uses 
'cumber* for 'trouble.* 

729 Peas. This is a generic name for the plant, and the 
proper form of the singular. Pea is formed by false analc^y 
from a supposed plural peas {pease). Pulse is a similar woi^, 
about which no such mistake has been made. In Chaucer we 
have the true old plural ^peesen. ' 

731 Wasted. Lat. vastare^ which has passed in French to 

739 Neither could I turn my thoughts to anything else, but 
the sad place and its poor occupant, nor could I think of them 
with other than a sad and unquiet heart. 

744 With dull red stains discoloured. From the ' ruddle * of 
the sheep. 

752 Door. Connected with the Gk. ^pa. Cfl OvydTfip, 

753 ^l grieves me you have waited. * You have waited * is the 
subject of grieves. * It ' being a so-called anticipatory nomiative. 

754 In good truth. In many such phrases good has merely an 
intensive force; e.g. 'in good earnest,* *a good deal,* 'a good 
hard blow.' Cf. 'My best prayers.' — ^1.756. 

759 Listless. Vide 1. 259, note. 

760 Elder. * Old ' and * eld ' are properly different fonns of 
the strong past participle of a Gothic verb, meaning 'to nourish,* 
hence equivalent to * full-grown in years.' Cf. Lat. altus^ ' full- 


grown in stature. ' Eld is also used both as an adjective and as a 
substantive, meaning * old age.' Shakespeare has ' palsied eld.' 
— M.forM, iii. I. 

762 Apprenticed, A passive participle agreeing with * child,* 
from Lat. apprehendere^ to grasp, through the Fr. apprentisj one 
taken to learn a trade. 

766 That what I seek I cannot find. In apposition to * this.' 
She sought news of her husband. 

771 As if my body were not stuh She had not thought 

As others are; and I could never die. that a human body 
could shed so many tears without dying of grief, as others have 
done, and ''fading like a cloud that hath out wept its rain." 

775 To endure the things. To endure = to ' last out,' to sup- 
port. Fr. endurer ; Lat. durare, to make hard. 

777 ^ fo^l ^^ siory linger in my hearty &c. I feel that this 
poor woman has so moved my sympathy, that I love to dwell 
in memory upon the slightest thing connected with the life of 
one so good and so unhappy. If my tale is long, it is because 
I thus have many things to tell. If it is tedious, it is because 
these things are in themselves so trivial. 

784 A momentary trance comes over me. Trance^ (Lat. tran- 
situSj trans), * that which passes, so * vision.' 

785 I seem to muse on one I seem to be thinking, not of Mar- 
By sorrow laid asleep, garet as she is, a woman long since 

dead and passed away, but of Margaret in the human form I 
knew, who has wept herself to sleep, lulled by her very sorrow, 
and will awake once more to happiness renewed, and live her 
mortal life with him she loved. 
789 He is emphatic. 

801 Her body was subdued. Her physical strength was con- 
quered (by her sorrow). 

Cf. 1. 431. "Time had not tamed \il\% eye." 
797 The careless stillness ; i.e, she moved absently and without 

799 Still she sighed ; i.e. continually, as in 

** Like a nousling mole doth make 
His way j/i// underground till Thames he overtake." 

— Spenser. 
And so constantly in Shakespeare. 

812 But for my hope She could not feel grateful 

// seemed she did not thank me. for suggested hopes, in 
which she had already sought comfort, and felt to be vain. 
%\^ Primrose flower, Yx. prime-vh'e. Is the * rose' correct? 
818 -^ ^^ liv&i, &c. This uncertainty was her hardest trial. 
Cf. H. Kirk White's ballad of Gondoline— 

** Yet still she kept her lonely way. 
And this was all her cry : 


O tell me but if Beftnmd Ii«c^ 
And I in peace will <lie." 
S22 Bespoke a slupj hand afn^igzmce. Vide L 701, note ; ue. 
told a tale of hands slothfidlT ncgfectfiil of bousehold dudes. 
The sentence wonld be mcxe nainndlj- written, *a hand of sleepy 
negiigence,' the genitive taking the place of an adjective, as in 
* a man of mettle,' ' a man of stiaw ;' so in Latin ^ve haTe 
*' Noi: taba diiecti, non aexis conraa flead, 
Non galeae non ensis cranL" — Ovid, Sid. L 9S. 
Transposition of wocds from their natnral order is of frequent 
occnnence with Fliyabethan wrileis. Mr. Abbott quotes — 
" More than ten criers and six noise of trumpets.*' 

— ^Bkh Jokson, Sfjan. V. 7. 
824 Lot of books. For 'lot,' in the sense of 'coUectioD,' cf. 
the use of * sort* [Lat. j»rr, a lot] in the expressions * sorting 
letters^' ' ye shall be slain, all the sort of you,* &c. 

827 In seemly order. * Seemly,' from 'seem' = 'pleasant to 
behold.' 'Respectable' is similariy derived. 'Seemly' was 
also formerly used as an adyerb^ but is lardy so found in 
modem writers ; e.^. 

" Ful wel scfae sang the servise devyne, 
Entuned in hire nose fill sanjrfy.** — Chaucer, J^of. 125- 

829 Bate. Trench remarks that, preyions to Dryden, the 
word 'babe' did duty for 'doll,' a ^rord quite recently intro- 

830 7>i^ /rick of grief. 'Tridt;' Le. a halrit caught by 

C£ "The copy of the fiither: eye, nose, lip. 
The XivSl of 's frown, his forehead." 

— Shakespeare, Winters T. iL 3. 
834 Defaced. ' Deface;* so also 'dis-fignre' = 'render ugly; 
not necessarily 'destroy;' so 

"Or droop they as di^pnaced. 
To see their seats and bowers by chattering pies defaced." 

— ^Ben Jonson. 
836 Clear ; Le. 'of weeds.' 

838 The belter paH. VideX. 756. 

839 Chain. Ft. chcdne; Lat. catena. 

844 Noting. Lat. nota, a mark. A similar metaphor occuis 
in * mark,' ' remark.' 

848 But for her babe. ' But' here in its original meaning of 
'except ;' 'unless,' as in 

And but infirmity hath something seized 
His wished ability ; he had himself 
The lands and waters 'twixt your throne and his 
Measured, to look upon you." 

— Shakespeare, Winters T. ▼. L 141. 



Transpose these lines, expanding them into their full gram- 
matical form. Trace all the uses of *but' from its original 
meaning. — Kii^ Abbott's Shakespearian Grammar^ pp. 34 jy. 

840 Orphan. There is an old form * orphelyn,* corresponding 
to the Fr. orphdin ; Gr. 6p^ay6s. 

851 Vel I saw the idle lootn. Yet; ue. speaking of hope still 

852 Garments. * Garment' is spelt by ChoMcer, gamement, 
connected with * garnish, ' *gear.' 

860 Pittance. Property of the person who distributed, 
food in a monastery, then the food, or * pittance,' so distri- 

874 A wife and widow. * Wife* is connected with * weave.* 
The * wife' taking her name from what in old days was held to be 
her main occupation. Dr. Morris, however, says ** M^j/^=wife, 
is cognate with the Latin tuc-or^ and originally signified one 
carriwiofF." Cf. 'spinster.' 

Widow. Lat vidua, from viduus, empty; Fr. znde; English, 

Needs must. Needs is an obsolete genitive, used as an adverb. 
Cf. * of necessity.' Earle {Philology of the English Tongue) com- 
pares 'upwards,* 'towards,* *eftsoones * 

877 Explain the full force of the epithet * vacant.* Whence do 
we get the names * Sabbath' and * Sunday' ? 

881 Shaping things Her fancy made of each 

That made her heart beat quick, distant thing something 
that gave notice of her husband s coming, and at the fancied 
token her heart beat fast with eagerness. 

890 The little child, &c The chUd did not need to be told, 
so constant was Margaret's habit. 

892 Fond enquiry. Both meanings of *fond \ i.e. loving and 
foolish, or vain, are here included. 

896 Stranger horseman. * Horse-man' is an example of the 
commonest class of English compounds, where the first word of 
the compound qualifies the second as an adjective or adverb. 
What part of speech is * stranger * ? 

897 Wistfully. Cf. 1. 663, note. 

902 Nipping of October frost. To nip = to pinch. So we talk 
of being pinched with cold. Shakespeare has "A * nipping* 
and an eager air,** " A frost, a killing frost .... that nips Ms 

904 Chequered, The game of chess originated in Persia, from 
the Persian schaeh, a king. To 'check,* or 'chequer,* thus 
meant to mark off in parti-coloured squares, so to variegate. 
" The Court of Exchequer owes its name to the cheque cloth 
which covers the table, and on which the King's accounts are 
made up.*' — Blackstone, quoted by Richardson. 


905 Reckless = * care-less.* To *reck' = to attend to or 
care for. 

Cf. " And recks not his own rede." 

— Shakespeare, Ifam. i. 3. 

Distinguish between the modern meanings of * reckless* and 

907 Sapped; t.e. 'undermined.' Fr. saper ; Ital. zappare, 
from zappa, a spade. A word only recently introduced into 
English, ^Sappers and Miners.' 

913 One torturing hope. " Hope deferred maketh the heart 

922 And it seemed " While I blessed her with love 

To comfort me, &c. as great as if I had been her 

brother, and with grief which could, alas ! avail nothing, such 
blessing seemed to comfort me." 

926 More mild; i.e. less painfully intense than my former 

927 That secrd spirit of humanity ; i.e. the nearly obliterated 
traces of human feeling and intelligence which, in relation to the 
objects in whose arrangement they consisted, gave a contrast 
resembling that between the soul and the body of an intelligent 

928 Oblivious tendencies; i.e. tendencies to produce oblivion. 

Cf. ** His sleepy yerd in hond he bar uprighte." 

— CHAtTCER, Knighfs Tj 529. 
"And pour 
The dews oblivious." 
— Keble, Chmstian Year. * Tuesday before Easter. ' 

929 Plants, and weeds, and flowers. Explanatory of tenden- 

933 The purposes of wisdom ask no more. 'Purpose;' old 
Fr. pourpens, 'great thought, care, study.' Cotgrave. The 
word was afterwards confused with and supplanted by * propos, * 
from the Lat. * propositum.' 

934 This and the following five lines were first inserted in the 
edition of 1845. The text of the Wanderer\i9& throughout under- 
gone numerous alterations, not generally of great importance, nor 
always for the better. We have not thought fit to mention 
variations of reading, except in such a case as the present, in 
which we can trace the increasing influence of Christian thought 
upon the poet's writings as he advanced in years. 

940 The forms of things. 'Forms' is emphatic; i.e. things 
not as they are, but as we see them — the "passing shows of 

941 And peace is here. Cf. "And she forgotten in the quiet 
grave." — ^1. 510. 

944 What is the force of the epithet, ^ silent' ^ 


Cf, ** The dew upon the tender croppes 
Like perles white and round, 
Or like to melted silver drops, 
Refreshes all the ground." — Drayton. 
945 **IfUo my heart conveyed, &c. 

** To me the meanest flower that blows can give 
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears." 

— Ode on Iinnwrtality. 
952 Appeared an idle dream, &c. In the earlier editions the 
passage runs thus — 

"Appeared an idle dream which could not live 
Where meditation was. I turned away, 
And walked along my road in happiness." 
Cf. 1. 934, note. 
958 Mellow. A warm yellow, like the colour of ripe fruit. 

964 Peopled the milder air ; i.e. cooler than before. 

965 Mien is connected with * demeanour,* * demean.' 


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